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Wills and Powers of Attorney in the digital age – A new way of thinking

18 June 2020

It has been widely reported that there has been a huge rise in the demand for Wills and Powers of Attorney since the beginning of lockdown. The Law Society of Scotland was quick to introduce protocols which allowed solicitors to take instructions and witness the signing of documents by video-conference. This has allowed us to continue to assist those who need our help to protect themselves, their assets and their families throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

We have found that the conversations we are having about people’s wishes during their lifetime and after death have changed.  This new situation has brought new challenges and raised new questions, particularly when it comes to the use of technology for those who are very unwell or close to death.  

    Ross Brown

    Ross BrownPartner 

    Lynn Melville

    Lynn Melville, Partner 

    Neil Headrick

    Neil Headrick, Partner 

In this digital world, the delicate balance between being able to say goodbye and preserving the privacy and dignity of a person comes into sharp focus:

  • Who should have access to see someone in the time before they die? and
  • Who has the right to make that decision?
  • Does the dying person have the capacity to make these sorts of decisions?
  • Is a “digital funeral” appropriate and would this be the wish of the deceased?

Sharing photographs, videos and other memories on social media is an obvious way of celebrating someone’s life at a time we cannot be together, but is this what the deceased would have wanted? Who has the authority to deal with someone’s digital assets after they die?

The new normal requires us all to think about things differently. It is now more important than ever to have a robust Will and Power of Attorney in place to cover these difficult issues and this may involve revisiting existing arrangements. We are also encouraging our clients to put a Living Will in place to outline their wishes regarding future medical treatment in the event that they are not able to express informed consent.

How can BTO help during lockdown and beyond?

During lockdown, we have developed new ways for people to communicate with our team of specialist solicitors, including a dedicated helpline and 20 minutes free Wills consultation, call: 0141 225 4855 and an online booking system to set up virtual meetings (Visit: https://outlook.office365.com/owa/calendar/BTOSolicitorsLLP@bto.co.uk/bookings/).

We have also introduced BTOyouSTART, an online portal to allow people to start the process of making a Will or Power of Attorney at a time convenient to them. Click on the red graphic at the end of this blog to start the process and find out where you stand.

However, as we move through the phases of lockdown, we want to be able to see people again. There really is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting to get to know someone in order to understand their unique situation and ensure that they are getting the best advice possible. As our offices remain closed, we are providing home visits which adhere to the government guidelines around social distancing, so please get in touch by whatever means works best for you.

Contact:

Ross Brown, Partner  & Registered Trust & Estate Practitioner rbr@bto.co.uk / 0141 225 4855

Lynn Melville Partner & Registered Trust & Estate Practitioner lym@bto.co.uk / 0131 222 3234 

Neil Headrick, Partner nmh@bto.co.uk T: 0141 225 4847

 

 

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