Coronavirus (COVID-19) frequently asked questions
These tricky times bring with it many questions, so we thought we would help by answering some of your Coronavirus frequently asked questions…
During these uncertain times, we want to help as many of you as much as we possibly can. As a starting point, we have answered some of your Coronavirus frequently asked questions…
Who can witness my Will if I am self-isolating or shielding?
If you are self-isolating but need two witnesses when signing your Will, you could arrange for two neighbours to watch through a closed window as you sign your Will – it’s important that they are present at the same time for this.
Once the witnesses have watched you sign your part of the Will you can pass it through your letterbox to your witnesses. You will then need to return to the window to watch them both add their details and signatures to your Will – ideally, they should use their own pens for this. They can then return the Will to you through the letterbox, so that you can onto us. We can store it for you in our safe strong room and provide you with a photocopy.
I am an Executor for someone who has passed away from Coronavirus – what should I do?
Deaths are registered remotely over the phone now, as opposed to in person, and only a maximum of 10 people can attend a funeral. Check out our probate infographic for a clear outline of the process.
Can I make a Will urgently?
We will help you to make a Will as quickly as we possibly can. In order for your Will to be legally valid there are specific conditions which must be met;
- The Will needs to be in writing – Instructions can often be taken over the phone and the drafted Will can be sent to you by e-mail or post for approval and amendment. There is also the option of speaking to us online via Zoom.
- The Will needs to be signed by you (the testator) in the presence of two independent witnesses (who must be present at the same time). The witnesses must not be benefactors in the Will.
- The witnesses must each sign the Will in your presence. You could call your neighbours or your friends and arrange a meeting in your garden, driveway or street. Everyone should use their own pens, wear gloves and ensure they stand two metres apart.
Can I make a Will or set up a codicil urgently for somebody who has currently has Coronavirus?
This is possible if all of the necessary precautions are put into place and everyone is safe.
If the Will-maker is currently receiving treatment in hospital, then it may be possible for doctors or nurses to witness the Will as long as they are willing to do so and take the necessary precautions.
Would the probate process by affected if someone has died from Coronavirus?
We have been warned that due to the pressures of COVID-19 there may be delays in applying for Grant of Probate, but we are doing all that we can to ensure a smooth application process.
I haven’t exchanged contracts yet but someone in the chain has Coronavirus – what are my rights?
If someone in your chain has tested positive or is showing symptoms of Coronavirus, or is self-isolating, the legal work can continue. Hopefully all parties will be well and able to move once the lockdown is lifter.
Employing an expert Conveyancing solicitor, who can help you to ensure that everything that can be done during this time is completed, will help to speed things up.
What if someone in the chain wants to pull out?
The government has asked for people to be patient and stressed that there is no need to pull out of transactions due to Coronavirus. Even in normal market conditions, chain can collapse and if this happens there isn’t much that you can do until another buyer or seller has been found for the missing link.
I want to pull out of buying – what will happen?
In England and Wales, if contracts have not been exchanged, then you will not face any penalties. However, if you have exchanged contracts you will lose your deposit, normally 10% of the property’s value. The seller may also seek additional compensation from you via legal action.
If you are in Scotland, then different rules will apply.
Contracts have already exchanged, will the coronavirus stop me from moving house?
In most cases, the transaction should be deferred where possible until the current stay-at-home period is over. Read our article ‘Can I move house during the Coronavirus outbreak?’ to find out more.
Am I still able to safely send you important documentation to proceed with my sale/purchase?
Yes – we have some members of staff in the office scanning and taking care of documents.
Court of Protection
Does the coronavirus affect my ability as a Deputy?
Your role and responsibilities as a Deputy remain the same, however, you must follow the current government advice on social distancing.
I am self-isolating and cannot visit the person.
You can still make decisions on behalf of the person, and if you wish, you can ask someone else to carry it out for you.
What impact will Covid-19 have on my claim for compensation?
We are trying to keep things as normal as possible and working hard to keep any delays to an absolute minimum. However, we rely on a lot of experts that work on the frontline, so there may be some delays and extensions in the process. We will only ask for these when absolutely necessary and keep you informed of any change.
I have an urgent enquiry, can I reach you on your main office line?
Yes – we are still easily reachable by phone, email, or Zoom. If you have any more Coronavirus frequently asked questions, we will be happy to answer them!
Is every OM&M employee still available for clients to contact?
All of our team members who work with clients are easily available. Our latest article on how you can contact your solicitor may be helpful.
Are you still having meetings with clients if so, how?
Apart from exceptional circumstances, all of our meetings are currently being held via the video conferencing app Zoom or on the telephone.
We hope that we have helped to answer some of your Coronavirus frequently asked questions. For anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01525 378177.