Coronavirus: Wills and Powers of Attorney FAQ
The continuing effects of coronavirus remain uncertain. Understandably, many people are concerned about its potential impact upon them and their loved ones. Deborah Adams Director of the Wills and Probate Department at Parnalls has put together some common questions clients are asking at this difficult time.
You should check the Government website for the latest guidance in conjunction with this article, as the guidelines on the coronavirus (COVID-19) are changing frequently.
Q 1 – My will is several years old; do I need a new one?
You should review your will regularly. A good rule of thumb is every time there is a significant change in your circumstances or every five years. This does not necessarily mean your will needs to be amended with each change of circumstances, but you should at least make sure it continues to reflect your wishes.
Although it is important to maintain an up-to-date will, making rash changes during a time of distress is ill-advised. If you are unsure, you should seek advice about whether your will needs updating.
Q 2 – My will no longer reflects my wishes, but I am self-isolating. How can I make a new will?
To support those in self-isolation, and in line with social distancing guidelines, instructions for a new will can be taken via telephone or video call.
Unfortunately, signing your will is more problematic. When you sign your will, two people must witness your signature. Witnessing via video link is not sufficient. However, your witnesses need only be ‘in line of sight’ of you when you sign, and they could witness you signing through a window or over a garden fence. We can make arrangements for your will signing suitable for your individual circumstances.
Q 3 – I have coronavirus and have not made a will. What will happen to my estate if I do not survive?
If you die without a valid will, your estate would be dealt with under the rules of intestacy. Exactly how the rules apply depends upon your family circumstances, as well as the value of your estate.
In general terms, a spouse or civil partner and any children would have the highest priority. After this, more remote members of your family could inherit, or your estate could even end up passing to the crown. By making a will, you can ensure that your assets pass according to your wishes and not in accordance with predetermined law.
Q4 – I have coronavirus and am worried about inheritance tax. Should I give money to my children while I am still alive?
Making gifts during your lifetime does not necessarily escape inheritance tax. If you make a gift and you do not survive for seven years, the gift is still considered part of your estate when you die.
You should also carefully consider your own needs before gifting money. Once you part with an asset, you also part with all rights to it. The only way this can be reversed is if the person receiving the gift to chooses to return it. Before making any gift, you should always seek advice.
Q 5 – My elderly relative is self-isolating and cannot get to the bank. How can I help?
Without authority, you cannot access another person’s bank account. Authority might be as simple as putting something in place with one specific bank, or it could mean your relative granting a power of attorney.
A property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney will grant authority to deal with financial affairs, including day-to-day banking. The process is, however, rather lengthy, as lasting powers of attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. If your relative has capacity and only requires your help during this specific time, a general power of attorney may be more appropriate, though a general power of attorney does have limits. Your relative should seek advice on the best solution for them before signing any legal document.
Q 6 – I am an attorney for someone who is self-isolating but who has capacity. Should I start acting for them?
If you are appointed under a property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney, you may only be able to act if the person who granted the power no longer has capacity. In some circumstances, you could act sooner if they ask you to. This depends upon the individual power and you may, therefore, have no authority to assist with their financial affairs at present.
You should also note that if the person has made a health and welfare lasting power of attorney, this may only be used if they lack capacity. They cannot delegate their health and welfare decisions. Everybody is presumed to have capacity unless it is proven otherwise. If you are unsure about whether you should be acting, you should seek advice.
Q 7 – I have coronavirus. I am an attorney or deputy for a vulnerable person who does not have capacity, I usually visit every week and am worried they will be confused or upset if I do not appear. What should I do?
In your role as an attorney or deputy, the best interests of the person you are acting for must be central to every decision you make.
At present, the Government advice is clear. Everybody should be social distancing and those who are particularly vulnerable should be self-isolating. If the person you are acting for lacks capacity they may not understand the need for self-isolation, and you should help to ensure that this occurs by stopping your usual visits. It is also important to help them feel secure and cared for. Isolation can be particularly distressing if someone is unable to understand why they are going without visitors for long periods. You could try staying in contact via telephone, or by sending letters, to help ease the loneliness. It is vital that attorneys (or deputies) and carers work together for the best interests of the person they are looking after. Now, more than ever, you should ensure that you are in regular contact with the person’s care team to ensure their needs are being met.
For further information or advice on any of these issues, please contact Deborah Adams in the Wills and Probate Department on 01566 772375 or email AdamsD@Parnalls.com.
KATHERINE FLASHMAN KITSON CELEBRATING 25 YEARS AS A DIRECTOR OF PARNALLS
Do you know the difference between…
When to consider appointing a professional attorney
Should I get a cohabitation agreement?
The Need for Updating Wills
The Right to Make Noise
Ill-health pension transfer not liable for IHT
Legal Time Limits - why so important?
Would you pay a premium for a south-facing garden?
Video-witnessed wills to be made legal
New Planning Relaxation Is Not the Whole Storey
How to minimise delays in obtaining Grant of Probate
Could you benefit from the Green Homes Grant?
A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM: new electrical safety regulations for residential tenancies
Property of Cornish residents who die without a will goes to Prince Charles
Does your lawyer progress your accident claim efficiently and provide you with a personal and professional service? Can i change solicitors for my accident claim?
What effect could the new changes to stamp duty have on property sales?
Preparing to sell your Launceston property
Staying safer in video meetings
Making Sure Your Great New Home Comes With Clean Air
Property Market Re-Opens in England
Coronavirus: Wills and Powers of Attorney FAQ
Medical Care Received Not Up to Scratch?
Had an Accident in Someone's Home?
Accident or Injury Involving a Dog?
Social Distancing No Obstacle for Parnall's Mobile Document Signing Team
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Commercial Property Legal FAQs
Rent Charge Suspensions: Protecting Your Interests
Been Asked to Sign an Employment Settlement Agreement? Seek Advice Urgently...
Services Update: Continuity of Legal Service Provision
Advising You in Uncertain Times
Could carelessness on social media land you in court?
Is an electronic signature on a commercial property document acceptable?
What happens when there is no health & care LPA in place
Social Media Training for Businesses
Information to gather for your probate solicitor
Gazundering, what it is and how to avoid it
Relief from forfeiture – what happens if the tenant forgets to pay the rent?
Not so safe at work - compensation for an accident at work
New organ donation law: giving you control
Running a business from home
Have nude photos of you or your teenager been posted online?
Landowners’ rights and the Electronic Communications Code
Building in your back garden
Christmas is a time for giving (and inheritance planning)
Buying the freehold of your leasehold house
Redeveloping an empty pub for commercial use
Why it takes time to obtain the Grant of Probate
Social Media: The unconscious privacy threat
Is your reputation being threatened?
Making a will after your spouse or partner has died
Interns celebrate completion of internship at solicitors
Selling your home in a flat market, some top tips
Claiming compensation for a serious road traffic accident
New Media and Communications Court list reflects surge in internet defamation claims by Laura Baglow
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.