Inheritance Tax  

Signing a will during the pandemic

This article is part of
Guide to IHT planning after the pandemic

Signing a will during the pandemic

During times of pandemic and war it is understandable that there will be a significant increase in the number of people writing their wills, while business owners will be thinking about rules around succession and the transfer of shares to family members.

And things are no different this time.

Many advisers have seen a marked increase in the number of enquiries about wills.

Jason Street, senior wealth management consultant at Mattioli Woods says since the lockdown, the most common questions have been around not only how to deal with the paperwork for the completion of wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) but also the practicalities of requiring signatures to be witnessed.

Signing documents 

He explains that LPAs also require a Certificate Provider to certify a sound state of mind at the point of signing and a check that they have not been put under any duress to sign the LPA, which can provide a challenge where physical contact is restricted. 

Mr Street says: “We understand that the Law Society in the UK is looking at ways to try and simplify the signing of wills and make it quicker to register LPAs, as well as in Scotland.”

“Discussions around whether the will is up to date, whether the Letter of Wishes is worded correctly or out of date and questions around LPAs have been far more common within client discussions, even more so in some cases than the state of the investment markets. 

“Being able to provide holistic financial planning and having knowledge in these estate planning areas can assist with the discussions and ensure the planning then completed in conjunction with the Solicitor is already well underway.”

A note by the CII website recommends: “That clients should be given the option of meeting via telephone or video conferencing such as Skype.

“This method can easily be adopted to a discussion with the client, including making an appropriate recommendation.

“If a trust or a will is recommended, a suitable draft can be discussed and prepared as well. Unfortunately, when it comes to the execution of the relevant documents, there may be difficulties, although plans are being made to simplify matters.”

Trusts becoming popular

Mr Street says clients are also considering the potential use of trusts, perhaps more than normal. 

Clients may often assume that they will live into old age and the family will be older and able to handle wealth that may pass to them on death. 

With the Covid-19 virus potentially taking people at any age, concerns around younger families receiving wealth at a younger age has prompted some more discussion around the potential use of trusts, to provide some protection and control of assets within the family.

Mr Street adds: “Just like their financial planning advice, we are advising them to review their existing wills and planning to ensure it is up to date and fit for purpose.