Wills and Powers of Attorney

If you need to get your affairs in order, or are in charge of making decisions on someone else’s behalf, you might have questions. Call our free helpline on 08000 862 819 if you need advice.

Back to our Covid-19 Hub.

Can I still make a will during the Coronavirus lockdown?

How can I give you my instructions?

How can I sign my will during the Covid-19 lockdown?

What can I do if I don’t have witnesses?

Can anyone witness my will?

How can a care home resident make their will or power of attorney (PoA) during lockdown?

How can I make my wishes known if I am too ill to tell doctors?

How does a living will affect my medical treatment?

Can I choose who makes decisions about my medical treatment?

How can I manage my finances if I’m ill or self-isolating?

How can an ordinary power of attorney (PoA) help me?

What can I use a PoA for?

Can I use a power of attorney for business finances?

How will the Court of Protection continue to help those lacking mental capacity?

Can I still make a will during the Coronavirus lockdown?

Answered April 2 2020

Yes – and we can still help you to do this because solicitors who are involved in the preparation and execution of wills are judged to be key workers, so are allowed to work and move around during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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How can I give you my instructions?

Answered April 2 2020

Traditionally you would expect to meet the solicitor advising you and although the government lockdown presents some challenges, they can be overcome relatively easily.
We are taking instructions over the phone or using video services like Zoom, Facetime or Skype. Once we have your instructions, we can send draft documents directly to you by post or email, for your review and approval.

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How can I sign my will during the Covid-19 lockdown?

Answered April 2 2020

For your will to be valid, it must be signed by you in the physical presence of two independent witnesses, who also have to sign the document themselves.

During the lockdown, it is important to continue to follow the government social distancing and NHS guidelines. Consider arranging to meet with your witnesses in an open space such as your driveway or garden. If you choose to do this, you can place your will on a flat surface, such as a table, between you. You and your witnesses must each stand two metres apart, you should all wear gloves and use your own pens. Each person can then step forward to sign the will in turn.
Adopting this process means that, you and your witnesses have been in the “physical presence” of each other, and therefore the signing formalities have been met.

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What can I do if I don’t have witnesses?

Answered April 2 2020

As solicitors are key workers, we can act as witnesses.

Alternatively you may decide to ask someone else to be your witnesses, for example, your neighbours. This is allowed, as the government has confirmed that you are able to leave your home to help a vulnerable person. Our view is that helping someone to get their affairs in order by preparing a will falls into this category.

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Can anyone witness my will?

Answered April 6 2020

They must be over the age of 18, not a family member and not benefiting, or related to anyone who is benefiting, under the terms of the will. This means that a spouse or civil partner cannot be a witness.

If your will is contested or called into question after your death, your witnesses may be called upon to testify that you were willing and able to sign the will, that it is your signature, that no one forced you to sign and that you had the mental capacity to sign and that you understood what you were signing. It is therefore important that your witnesses are also mentally capable of being a witness and they are not blind or partially blind.

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How can a care home resident make their will or power of attorney (PoA) during lockdown?

Answered March 26 2020

Residents can talk to a solicitor using video conferencing facilities such as Zoom – a care home can support this by making sure that they have privacy to do that, as well as ensuring that speaker volumes are high enough for them to hear and that the screen is large enough.

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How can I make my wishes known if I am too ill to tell doctors?

Answered 26 March 2020

If you are well enough to express your views about your treatment, you are the only person who can agree to it, but if you are too ill to make a choice or to express a preference, the doctor treating you makes the decision, unless you either have a living will or a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare (LPAHW).

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How does a living will affect my medical treatment?

Answered 26 March 2020

A living will (sometimes known as an advance directive or advance decision) allows you to express your preferences about your future treatment and what you want to do in certain circumstances. Assuming the health emergency you are experiencing is covered in your living will, your wishes will take precedence. The more explicit and specific they are, the more effective they are; set out when they should be used and which interventions you do and do not find acceptable. A living will is valid from the moment it is signed.

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Can I choose who makes decisions about my medical treatment?

Answered 26 March 2020

Yes, if you have a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare (LPAHW). It can take three months to process an LPAHW – a living will might be a useful interim measure. Neither document gives you the legal right to demand a particular course of action from a doctor; they simply allow you to choose whether to accept what is offered.

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How can I manage my finances if I’m ill or self-isolating?

Answered March 20 2020

Picking up pensions, claiming benefits, setting up standing orders for utilities, sorting debt arrears – there are many practical difficulties in the current situation. If you have not made your Lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) yet – and they can take up to 10 weeks to go through the court process – we would advocate that people think about putting in place an ordinary power of attorney.

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How can an ordinary power of attorney (PoA) help me?

Answered March 20 2020

A PoA will enable someone else to help you with your finances; it can be made by a mentally competent adult (over 18) and will last up to one year (unless the client dies or loses capacity in that time frame). They are widely recognised as a valid form of power of attorney and can be used immediately after the last person signs.

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What can I use a PoA for?

Answered March 20 2020

They are solely for financial matters but you can limit them in terms of time and scope – for instance, they could enable someone to complete on buying a property if the buyer is not physically able to do this. Powers of attorney can provide some immediate relief for people with underlying health conditions or who are incapacitated by injury or illness of some other type. In fact, they can provide benefit for anyone who finds themselves caught out in this crisis.

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Can I use a power of attorney for business finances?

Answered April 7 2020

An ordinary power of attorney is a useful tool for you to rely on for your business, especially if social distancing or self-isolation is preventing you from making normal contacts.
For instance, you can appoint an attorney to assist with the signing of paperwork in connection with an ongoing commercial property purchase. This ensures that paperwork can be signed at the earliest possible opportunity, without putting you, your family or any of your employees at risk. It avoids the need to have to send documents by email or post to the client for signing.

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How will the Court of Protection continue to help those lacking mental capacity?

Answered April 6 2020

The Court of Protection will run remote hearings via email, telephone conference and video-link systems, which will be recorded and open. The process will enable patients’ voices to be heard – visits to patients will be made only when absolutely necessary and visits to care homes are strongly discouraged; again, telephone and video-link is preferred.

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