During the course of the lockdown, this is a question we’ve been asked by lots of our clients. The answer is “no, you don’t”.
Our new way of working
When the Scottish Government issued lockdown instructions to the effect that all employees who could work from home should do so, we closed our office and made arrangements to work remotely whilst still having access to our phones, email and, importantly, our electronic records of client cases. This meant we could continue to look after our clients’ interests even though we weren’t in the office.
However, there were certain challenges we had to overcome when it came to our new way of working. When a client wants to make a Will, we usually arrange a meeting at our office. We take our client’s instructions, give advice and highlight important legal and financial implications of the client’s decisions. We then draft up the Will in accordance with our client’s instructions and send it to our client for review. When our client is happy with the Will, it can then be signed. Our client could have come to the office to do this or the Will could be signed at home. When the Will is signed, the signature has to be witnessed and the witness has to be present at the time of signature. In addition, the witness cannot be an executor or beneficiary named in the Will.
For obvious reasons during lockdown, it became more difficult for clients to provide instructions and almost impossible for clients to have the Will witnessed because those living with the client were almost always mentioned in the Will and clients who lived alone were very often unable to meet up with friends and family. We faced the same types of challenges when preparing a Power of Attorney for a client and these were compounded by the requirement that a solicitor has to certify the mental capacity of their client by interviewing the client immediately before he or she signs the Power of Attorney. With offices closed and visits to clients prohibited, there was clearly a problem with this.
However, with the help of technology and emergency legislation these problems have been solved and interim measures put in place. Using video technology to “meet” with clients, we’re now able to do everything we would normally do when we meet with clients in the office – and that includes the certification of mental capacity in a Power of Attorney case as well as witnessing a Will remotely. These have been very useful and timely changes which were introduced as a result of the pandemic lockdown. Whether or not they remain in place as we ease out of lockdown remains to be seen, but what it does mean is that we are able to continue to provide a full service and look after our clients’ interests should they wish to prepare a Will or Power of Attorney during the current lockdown period.
Should you wish to discuss preparing a Will or Power or Attorney, call us now at Clark Boyle on 0141 227 2200 or or use the contact link below for further information or to arrange an appointment.Contact Us