The current coronavirus crisis we are all living through presents an opportunity to take stock of our affairs.
We are fielding questions such as "I haven't made a will yet, can I still make one?", "what should I do?" or "I made a will many years ago but am afraid is it is no longer relevant" are naturally at the forefront of an individual's mind at such uncertain and worrying times. At Beauchamps, our Private Client Associate Samantha Holton is here to answer these questions and to help relieve you of additional anxiety you may have about your estate and succession planning.
- You can still avail of our professional will drafting and estate planning services.
- Instructions can be given remotely, including by telephone or email.
- You can, by arrangement, execute the will from the safety of your own home.
While traditionally clients attended in person to give their solicitor instructions for their will, this is no longer practical. Instructions can be given by telephone or email or for more tech savvy clients through such apps as Skype, Facetime or Zoom. A draft will can be prepared which the solicitor can email or post to the client for comment and approval. Once the final draft has been agreed with the client the next step is signing, or execution, of the will.
For a will to be valid it must comply with the rules of execution set out in the Succession Act 1965. The legislation is clear that a will must be in writing and signed at the foot or end by the testator. The testator must sign the will in the presence of each of two or more witnesses, each of whom must sign the will in the presence of the testator. It is this requirement to be physically present with each other that presents the biggest challenge in a time of social distancing and self-isolation. These factors, however, ought not to deter a testator from making a will, as novel and safe ways to execute a will have been devised and approved.
Through the Looking Glass
The will, as agreed, can be posted through the client's letterbox in an envelope and the client can then arrange to execute the will in the window, in full sight of the witnesses outside and while the witnesses maintain a safe distance from each other. Once the testator has signed the will in sight of the witnesses, they can then hold up the executed will to the window for the witnesses outside to see. The signed will can then be placed back into the envelope and left outside the door. Each witness can then sign the will in view of the testator and each other again, while maintaining a safe distance from each other.
Another alternative is for us to place the will in an envelope and post it through the testator's letterbox and return to the car. The testator can then take the envelope and go to his or her car. The witnesses, again maintaining the recommended distance from each other, can witness the testator sign the will on the car dashboard. The testator can then pass the will to the witnesses for them to sign on the bonnet of the testator's car.
We will then place the executed will in a separate envelope for at least three days, to reduce the possibility of viral contamination and transmission.
Where it is not possible for us to attend your home, the approved will can be sent by post to the client. The client can then source their own witnesses. Note that the intended beneficiaries (or their spouses) cannot witness the will without the effect of voiding the bequest. In fact, a client who recently received their will by post, but who couldn't source witnesses, attended at their local Garda station where two very obliging Gardai kindly witnessed their will in accordance with the rules.
Peace of Mind
We are adapting and changing in response to the current crisis. We are creating solutions to ensure that our clients can continue to avail of professional will drafting and estate planning services, notwithstanding the restrictions implemented to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
To discuss any other COVID-19 related issues impacting your business, please get in touch with Barry Cahir (Litigation and Insolvency), Thomas O'Dwyer (Litigation), Sharon Delaney (Litigation), Dorit McCann (EU, Competition & Procurement), Damian Maloney (Corporate and Commercial), Aidan Marsh (Commercial Property), Gerry Gallen (Commercial Property), Sandra Masterson Power (Employment), Paul Gough (Employment), Edward Evans (Corporate & Commerical), Fidelma McManus (Housing) or your usual Beauchamps contact.