To my clients (existing and former), friends and contacts.
I hope you, your families and colleagues are keeping well at this time.
Please forgive me for not sending this to you individually and also to those people I have not been in contact with for some time, again my apologies.
Further to the Coronavirus outbreak, I realise many of you may will be looking for guidance and updates on matters such as the ability to review your legal estate planning is concerned. With these difficult times and increased health risks, there is a heightening of the need for people to have fully updated Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney. That process, however, is all the more difficult due to social distancing measures. Will signings in particular presents a big issue for those trying to ensure that their legal estate planning matters are dealt with whilst they are able to do so.
Despite the obvious logistical challenges at this time, it is vital for my clients that I am as fully operational as possible. This I am achieving through working from my home office currently. While this is not an ideal situation (for my family primarily!) it does mean that I am able to maintain an appropriate level of service to clients. In addition, I am continuing to carry out most meetings and this is done remotely, via Zoom/WhatsApp/phone etc. I am finding that process works very well and consequently am able to process work to almost the normal level and degree although there will be some delays in obtaining information and registrations. For example, there are delays currently with checking property ownership records at Land Registry (as of yesterday their online service was down).
So, while it is not entirely a situation of ‘business as usual’, it is as close as possible to it. But it is important to tell you that I am available most days and times if you have any queries or concerns. Please do get in touch through my email (email@example.com) or mobile (07970 166804) although please bear in mind that with the current limitations I am extremely busy with instructions from existing and new clients and this may have an effect on speed of response. Also please understand that I have my young family at home with me and although my wife Claire is looking after them, there are occasions during zoom meetings or phone calls where suddenly I may be called upon to put an arm on a Lego character or other similar requests.
I hope it will help you if I set out below a little guidance on my current process for Wills & LPAs and also some guidance for those for whom I am administering Estates or Trusts.
Wills (and Lasting Powers of Attorney)
If you need to review existing wills, or discuss putting in place new ones, I am currently conducting a two stage ‘meeting’ process through Zoom/WhatsApp/Skype.
- (optional) Prior to our 1st ‘zoom’ meeting, I can send through a questionnaire for completion and return (to provide some guidance to you and to provide me some essential details and information). Other information such as Lasting Powers of Attorney guidance can be emailed to you in advance or you can visit my website link: https://robertcartmell.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/lpa-guidance-notes-01-2020.pdf
- At the first meeting, I take the details from you and on a shared document that we can both together see and work from.
- Following the meeting, I send an email with a Report covering the details taken and the advice given as to appropriate structure. It shall also include the costs of the work suggested to be undertaken. If you require matters such as Lasting Powers of Attorney, tenants in common status review or trust advice, this shall be included in the Report.
- We then review matters over phone/email and you confirm instructions.
- Once we are clear on the instructions, I arrange the preparation of a set of draft documents.
- We then have our 2nd ‘zoom’ meeting where I run through the drafts on the shared document screen and explain the provisions.
- We then arrange for signing off. We will arrange how best to comply with the requirements. There has been a helpful recent article in BBC News: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52215141.
- Signed documents are scanned and emailed (and paper copies sent on request).
Trust and Estate Administration
I have all details and communications saved on file and which can be accessed easily upon request.
I am conducting all meetings remotely and files are all held in a paperless environment and am able to process virtually all work that is required. If advice is needed from co-professionals, I am in contact with them all by phone/email/video conferencing.
I hope this guidance is of some help at this time.
Take care and stay safe.
Stay at home