Coronavirus: Demand for wills surges by 76 per cent as Covid-19 crisis continues

Financial advisor attributes spike to ‘frightening’ death tolls and people having more time on their hands

Chiara Giordano
Tuesday 31 March 2020 15:54 BST
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The coronavirus crisis has triggered a 76 per cent increase in demand for wills in the last fortnight alone, a leading financial advisory firm has revealed.

London-based deVere Group, which has an online wills service, says it has seen the sharp spike in inquiries as people’s minds have become “more focused” on financial planning because of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief executive Nigel Green put the rise down to “frightening” death tolls, “more people than ever” risking their own health to help others, and people having more time on their hands because of social-distancing measures.

He added: “Pandemic or no pandemic, the importance of having a will cannot be underestimated – and they’re not just for the elderly.

“Circumstances can change for anyone at any time and for so many different reasons as this pandemic is, unfortunately, proving to be all too true.”

Law firm Irwin Mitchell reported inquiries about wills had doubled in the last week, including some “very urgent requests”.

Gillian Coverley, a tax, trusts and estates partner at the firm, told The Independent: “On average over the last week we’ve seen twice the amount of new enquiries we’d normally get, but some days have even had 10 times the amount we’d usually get.

“There are several reasons – all connected in some way to coronavirus. It’s natural given the current climate that some people will be feeling anxious about the future and wanting to create some certainty in their lives through managing their affairs.

“Others have found themselves with more time at home to resolve things that have been on their list for a while.”

Legal services firm Slater and Gordon has also seen more than double the number of will inquiries it would usually receive in recent weeks.

Michael Knott, head of the wills team at Slater and Gordon, said: “We have seen a significant spike in inquiries from people wanting to either make or update their will, with more than double the usual number of calls this month.”

The current lockdown has thrown up practical challenges in terms of how those self-isolating are able to get their wills witnessed.

Under rules in the UK, the person creating the will must have two people in the same place at the same time as they sign the document.

However the rules have been relaxed to allow solicitors to witness wills through the windows of homes or cars.

Mr Knott added: “Our advice is that signatures will still be valid as long as each party can see the other sign – either, for example, by watching through a doorway or window or outside from a safe distance.

“That said, there is a strict process that still needs be followed with this and so, if they are at all unsure, it is important they seek legal advice.

“We recognise this isn’t ideal but at the moment it is necessary for the safety and well-being of everyone involved.”

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