Lawyers report surge in inquiries about wills

Firms are reporting a surge in demand in inquiries from people about wills.

Legal services firm Slater and Gordon said that, in recent weeks, it has had around double the number of inquiries it would normally expect to receive.

Michael Knott, head of the wills team at Slater and Gordon, said: “We have seen a significant spike in inquiries from people wanting to either make or update their will, with more than double the usual number of calls this month.”

He said the current situation has thrown up some challenges in terms of how those who are self-isolating are able to get their wills witnessed.

“Our advice is that signatures will still be valid as long as each party can see the other sign – either, for example, by watching through a doorway or window or outside from a safe distance,” he said.

“That said, there is a strict process that still needs be followed with this and so, if they are at all unsure, it is important they seek legal advice.

“We recognise this isn’t ideal but at the moment it is necessary for the safety and well-being of everyone involved.”

Co-op Legal Services also said it has seen a jump in sales of wills online and over the phone.

Research undertaken for Co-op before the coronavirus outbreak found that 39% of people aged 50 and over do not have a will.

Of those who do not, one in six (17%) said it was because they did not have time to make one.

Meanwhile, financial advice company deVere Group, which has an online wills service, said it has also seen a surge in inquiries.

Chief executive Nigel Green said: “With more people with more time on their hands due to social distancing measures and lockdowns, the coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented, collective focusing-of-minds effect.”

Mona Patel, consumer spokeswoman at Royal London, said: “It’s not surprising that there has been a big increase in inquiries about wills.

“Our research found that three in five of UK adults do not have a will in place and that since creating their first will 43% of people have bought a home, but haven’t updated their will to include this change.

“Having an up-to-date will in place is important as it can give you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones will be looked after financially.”

Elspeth Neilson, private client partner at London law firm Osbornes Law, said: “It’s important to recognise that small mistakes in your will can cause significant problems for loved ones in the event of your death and could result in extra costs, or, you dying intestate.

“Even in these unprecedented times you should ensure that your will appoints executors, contains a clear and unambiguous disposal of your estate, and is executed correctly.”

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