Even in a pandemic – The certainties of life continue
We are all struggling at the moment to adjust to the new world we currently find ourselves in, whether you are isolating due to being in the high risk or shielding groups, making changes due to lockdown such as not working, working from home, or even if you are continuing to work because you cannot work from home or are a key worker – life isn’t what it was and isn’t likely to go back to that way for quite some time yet.
Just because certain areas of society seem like they are on hold, some of life’s certainties didn’t get the message and unfortunately we will still see people getting sick and possibly dying of things other than just COVID-19.
This is why the government has made a list of key workers, healthcare must endure but unfortunately so do other areas too. The Ministry of Justice has designated the area of Wills as Key Work, in recognition of not only how important a Will can be following a death, but also because the current circumstances are causing a heightened state of anxiety for many people and being sure affairs are in order just in case the worst was to happen, can go some way to help ease that anxiety.
It is very easy to put off Wills at the best of time, but it is perhaps more important now than ever to ensure you have a Will in place or if you already have one, that it is up to date and still reflects your wishes, especially if you do not have a simple family setup, are not married or have assets beyond £270,000.
Glenn Blair, Private Client Solicitor at Bates Wells & Braithwaite said “Wills are such an important document for everyone to have, especially now with a very real risk of COVID-19. The uncertainty of what happens to your estate without a Will can cause many problems, not least the fact that those you actually want to benefit might not be entitled at all, or to the level you wish/believe”
There are other areas that can also be necessary in these times too. Lasting Powers of Attorney can make it easier for those you trust to assist you with matters whilst you are in isolation (or lockdown) and whilst setting up the documents takes an average of 10 weeks, the world is unlikely to be back to normal in that timeframe so it is best to plan for what is to come next.
The other area, unfortunately, is probate. They say there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes – and for some that can come at the same time. Around 55,000 people die every year in England and Wales, without the additional strain of epidemics, or pandemics or the fallout that they can cause from secondary deaths, such as suicides, poverty etc. Those estates will still need to be dealt with, debts will need to be paid, funerals (to some extent) arranged and inheritance tax, if due, must still be paid from 6 months after the date of death or interest will accrue (currently at 2.75%).
Depending on the estate it can often take most if not all of that six month period (or longer) to get the information required to calculate and pay the inheritance tax that is due. Now, in lockdown conditions and workplaces dealing with a different working environment and perhaps less staff, things will naturally take longer, this means it is important not to delay dealing with these matters for too long.
Bates Wells & Braithwaite are still open to assist with any of these matters and also other areas including Family/Matrimonial, Personal Injury, Employment or Litigation and more. Whilst changes have obviously had to be made to how meetings etc need to take place, the Ministry of Justice have made clear that work must continue.
Glenn joined Bates Wells & Braithwaite in 2009 and gained experience across the firm before qualifying as a solicitor in November 2015. He has a law degree from the University of East Anglia and took the Legal Practice Course at the College of Law, London.
Glenn is part of the firm’s Wills, Trusts and Probate department and specialises in wills, powers of attorney and the administration of estates.
Away from work, Glenn takes a keen interest in watching and playing various sports and is a long-term season ticket holder at his local football club, Colchester United. A lot of his spare time is also spent enjoying his young family.