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Coronavirus: questions about your family affairs answered?

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Posted by Susan Floyd on 23 March 2020

Susan Floyd Partner

We have seen a considerable increase in the number of enquiries from clients over the last few days across a range of issues. Therefore, we thought it would be helpful to share these with you to try and allay any concerns you may have during this very uncertain period.

The knock-on effect of the spread of coronavirus on all our lives cannot be underestimated and it is not surprising that many of us are worried about our personal safety and that of our families.

How do I make a will remotely, can this be done if I am self-isolating?

Yes, you can. We can take instructions by email, over the phone, or by video link. We will ask you some questions so that we understand exactly who you want to benefit from your estate before writing a first draft for you to check. We also have a questionnaire on our website which you can complete and email to us. Once you are happy with your will (and we can go through it in detail over the phone), you must sign it in the presence of two witnesses who will also sign it. To do this remotely, we would witness you and your two witnesses signing your will via a video link.

What is the easiest way to protect my assets?

Making a will is the only guaranteed way to protect your assets. Wills do not have to be complicated (depending on your assets of course) and their main purpose is to make sure that your estate is distributed exactly as you wish.  Your will can also be used to record any strong wishes you may have regarding your funeral arrangements or who manages your estate. A will is also a useful vehicle for minimising the amount of inheritance tax you may have to pay.

My parents are self-isolating, how can I help them manage their affairs?

This question rather assumes that at least one of your parents, if not both, have capacity to act on their own behalf but, because they cannot leave the house, are struggling to cope. If your parents have a property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, and you are a named attorney, your parents can authorise you to act on their behalf. Likewise, if they have a health and welfare LPA, you will also be able to speak to their GP and / or hospital consultant on their behalf. If neither have capacity then you will only be able to help them if they already have LPAs in place and you are a named attorney.

My elderly relative is in a care home which now has restricted access, how do I ensure they are safe and are being cared for?

Although government guidance has recommended that no one should visit care homes unnecessarily, it does not suggest that visitors should be banned completely. Each care home will be taking its own precautions, for instance some are only letting immediate family members (spouses and children) visit and only one at a time, others are restricting all visitors. If your relative’s care home will allow visits, make sure you are completely well and follow all recommended hygiene practices such as thorough handwashing.

If not, we suggest that you keep in close touch with the care home, perhaps by scheduling a regular time to call when you can speak not only to your relative but also to the duty manager to find out how they are. This not only demonstrates to the care home that you are taking an active interest in the well-being of your relative, it will also help to reduce both your and your relative’s anxiety at this enforced separation.

About the author

Susan has over 30 years experience as a private client solicitor, working for many years in London for charities, high net worth individuals and those with overseas connections.

Susan Floyd

Susan has over 30 years experience as a private client solicitor, working for many years in London for charities, high net worth individuals and those with overseas connections.

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