The coronavirus outbreak has led to a 30% increase in the number of elderly people wishing to write new wills or grant power of attorney.
Ian Bond, chair of the Law Society’s wills and equity committee, told The Daily Telegraph that law firms throughout the country had had seen a “huge spike” in the number of queries over the last two months.
Most of the requests were from elderly or vulnerable people “undergoing hospital or other health treatment who were fearful about the risk of the virus and wanted to put their affairs in order”.
The highly infectious nature of the disease meant that solicitors were having to find “alternative technological ways to help the new clients get their wills written, witnessed and signed because of concerns about risks of people contracting the virus in face-to-face meetings”.
This involved using “skype, facetime and email to try to minimise person-to-person contact although, by law, individuals still have to have two people to physically witness a legal document like a will”.
Lasting Powers of Attorney enable you take control of your future while you are still healthy by nominating someone you trust such as a family member to act on your behalf if you ever become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.
The property and finance LPA allows you to appoint someone to look after your financial affairs and the personal welfare LPA lets you grant an attorney authority over such matters as health care and the kind of treatment you receive.
There are safeguards to prevent the system being abused so you can prepare for the possibility of ill health secure in the knowledge that you can leave important decisions in the hands of someone you trust.
If you don’t have such arrangements in place, your family may have to go through complicated and time-consuming legal processes just to get the authority to help run your affairs for you.
Many elderly people now want to arrange power of attorney because they fear they would have to self-isolate for up to four months and be unable to deal with their legal affairs.
Mr Bond said: “The downside is the fact that the statutory process takes about eight weeks for a document to be readied for court use.
“It would be helpful if some of these processes could be relaxed and speeded up to make it easier and quicker for the public.”
Please contact us if you would like advice about updating your will or creating a Lasting Power of Attorney.