Solicitors’ profession is an essential service and remains open for business.
The Law Society of Ireland is encouraging individuals to take steps to plan ahead and ensure their wishes are legally protected in the event of ill-health or death.
“The Law Society has closely monitored and developed guidance on many areas of practice that remain vital to Irish people and businesses during this pandemic,” explains President of the Law Society of Ireland Michele O’Boyle.
“The correct drafting and execution (signing and witnessing) of wills has proven to be of particular importance to people wishing to make sure that, should the worst happen in this global health crisis, there will be clarity and certainty for their families and loved ones.”
“The Law Society’s advice is now, as always: talk to your solicitor. Law firms across Ireland are available to help you with this important task in these extraordinary times.”
Instructing your solicitor in lockdown
Each Law firm will set out its own specific way of undertaking Legal work during this pandemic, respecting WHO guidelines and government advice.
Ms O’Boyle explains, in general terms, the process of making a will during this period of self-isolation and physical distancing.
“Where possible, your solicitor will take detailed instructions over the telephone and a draft version of the document may be sent by email. You will then be able to review the will, and make any changes that may be needed.”
Solicitors are conscious that some clients will not have access to email, or be equipped with smart phones and other technology. In those circumstances, your solicitor will likely:
- Take detailed instructions and provide advice over the telephone, and draft a will that gives legal effect to those informed instructions; The solicitor must be satisfied that the client is not under any duress giving those instructions.
- Depending on the level of urgency involved, your solicitor may then post the draft will out for your review, or
- Review and discuss the draft will in detail over the telephone. It is critical that the client ensures that he/she is satisfied that the final version reflects their wishes, and
- Make arrangements to ensure that the final version of the will is validly executed by the client in accordance with the law, and deal with any other issues that may arise alongside the drafting and execution of their will.
“There are strict legal conditions surrounding the execution of a will in the Succession Act, 1965 and these must be met even in a time of social distancing. The Law Society has provided detailed practice guidance to solicitors to ensure that wills can continue to be validly executed during this time,” Ms O’Boyle explained.
Enduring Power of Attorney
Ms O’Boyle noted that this may also be an opportunity to plan beyond your will and consider your wishes should you become unable to make decisions due to illness or accident.
“We know that only a small proportion of Irish adults have legally appointed an Attorney, under an Enduring Power of Attorney, to make legal and financial decisions, should they become unable to do so.”
“We also know that many people find planning for ill health and death daunting but a key first step is to speak with your solicitor.” says Ms O’Boyle.
Talk to your solicitor
“As a society, we are working through an extraordinary time. The solicitor’s profession is an essential business and remains open for business- delivered differently. We remain available in these challenging times to help our clients, our local communities, and support businesses in need.”
“If you need advice, talk your local solicitor who can provide specific and valuable advice on any number of important matters, including making a will and planning for any challenges that may lie ahead during this uncertain time.”
The Law Society’s legal guides also contain basic information on the first steps to take to plan your estate. They free accessible guides are available on the Law Society website.
These guides are intended as a guide only and do not replace professional legal advice from your solicitor.
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