Will, Trust and Probate

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How Covid-19 is hammering home the importance of a will

View profile for Susan Howarth
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Life, but not as we know it

We live in unprecedented times. Anxious times. Strange, dark and difficult times.

Pandemic, social distancing, isolation, lockdown, ‘essentials only’, PPE, homeschool, furlough - these are the words we have come to hear day in, day out. This is our new ‘normal’.

In the week that saw figures for UK coronavirus deaths soars towards the 40,000 mark and lockdown measures tentatively eased, it’s become clearer than ever that this deadly disease is indiscriminate and unscrupulous.

Rich or poor, healthy or sick, male or female, young or old, it can target anyone and everyone, as Boris Johnson can testify after his infection with Covid-19 resulted in his hospitalisation for a week, 3 days of which he spent in intensive care.

The bottom line? We’re all vulnerable.


Tragic scenes

In recent weeks we’ve dealt with a number of families whose relatives had made initial will enquiries but hadn’t instructed, and subsequently contracted and succumbed to Covid-19.

Under these terribly sad circumstances, some families had been under the false impression that wills had been completed and stored at our offices, when in fact their loved ones had died intestate.

It’s been heart-breaking to witness these situations unfold, unable to help; talking to people who are still clearly in shock, reeling from a sudden and devastating loss, but now with the hugely stressful task of dealing with the immediate bureaucratic and financial issues relating to their loved one’s death as well as navigating their way through the rules of intestacy.


Dying without a will: the law dictates inheritance

Worrying, over a third of adults have never heard of the rules of intestacy but as many people are regrettably discovering during this horrific global pandemic, dying without a will means the law determines who will inherit your possessions

These rules are fairly strict and could mean that the law does not divide your possessions as you’d have wished.

What this effectively means is that dying without a will could result in some of your closest family members being left with no right to inherit anything at all - those who could miss out on inheritance include unmarried partners, close friends, carers or relations by marriage.

And when it comes to children, failing to name legal guardians in your will could mean that the care of your children is decided by the courts - and in extreme circumstances, you children may be placed into care whilst this process is conducted, where it is felt the welfare of the children is under serious threat or there is risk of significant harm.


No time better than the present – sort your will today

As Coronavirus continues to force us all to consider our own mortality as well as that of our loved ones, it hammers home the importance of having a will and ensuring it is up to date with our wishes.

Sorting your will can be both simple and straightforward.

At SH&Co. we have adapted the way we are working to ensure that we are well equipped to adhere to the government's guidelines to help mitigate the risk of increased infections, whilst still following the legal requirements of making a valid Will as outlined in the Wills Act 1837.

Don’t let making a will be the last thing on your mind - contact our Wills & Probate lawyer Emma Stride today on 01606 48777 or emmastride@susanhowarthsolicitors.co.uk for more details.


This article has been written for your general information only and is not a detailed statement of the law. It should not be used as a substitute for specific legal advice. If you require specific legal advice please do not hesitate to contact us on 01606 48777.