In light of the novel Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, demand for will writing has continuously increased. People are concerned about the future and want to make sure their estate are in order in case anything were to happen to them.

However, due to the government guidelines, particularly the ruling on social distancing, Private Client Solicitors have had to change the way they provide will writing services. The Law Society has declared Solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills as essential workers, thus alternative arrangements must be made to overcome the limitations existing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For a Will to be valid, it must meet all the requirements listed in section 9 of the wills Act 1837. The act states that no will shall be valid unless: –

  1. it is in writing, it is signed by the Testator (person making the will), or by some other person in his/her presence and by his/her direction; and
  2. that the Testator intended to give effect to the will and
  3. the signature is made or acknowledged by the Testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and
  4. each witness either –
    1. (i) attests and signs the will; or
    2. (ii) acknowledges his/her signature, in the presence of the Testator.

These requirements mean that for a will to be valid, all three people involved (The Testator and witnesses) must be in the same room at the same time to witness each signature. However, as a result of social distancing and self-isolation guidelines, it is not practical or safe for Solicitors and clients to witness wills as they usually would.

Overcoming social distancing for will writing

In order to overcome such obstacles and ensure compliance with the formalities of the Wills Act, Private Client Solicitors have adopted certain measures. These measures include:

  • Passing the will through a letterbox for the Testator to sign in front of the window with the witnesses watching from outside and vice versa.
  • Reading the contents of the will to the Testator through the window, and then the Solicitor signing the will on the Testator’s behalf; the witnesses then sign the will with the Testator watching through the window.

Notwithstanding the Coronavirus outbreak and policies on social distancing, there are other means which can be used to ensure that a will is validly drafted and executed.

Although we, Deo Volente Solicitors, have suspended all face to face appointments until further notice, we have adopted alternative methods of communication such as telephone consultations, emails, letters and video calls.

At Deo Volente Solicitors, we will take instructions on your will by telephone consultation or email. We will also offer a ‘window service’ to ensure that your will is correctly drafted and executed, without compromising on your safety and wellbeing. We will always put the best interests of our clients above everything else.

Please rest assured that despite the Coronavirus outbreak, we are still taking instructions, preparing and executing wills. We also offer urgent same day wills to provide you and your families with certainty and comfort. As probate registries are still open, we are also still able to provide our probate services to clients in need.

In these unprecedented times, our experienced and friendly Private Client team can guide you in ensuring that your loved ones do not have to worry about what to do. If you require any advice or assistance on wills and probate, please call us on 01234 350244 for a free telephone consultation today.

An Important Update for Temporary Migrants in light of Covid 19

Are you a temporary migrant living in the UK? Have you been furloughed or lost your employment because of the Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic?

by Shazia Akhtar, Partner, and Head of Immigration

The Home office guidance, issued on 24th April 2020, confirms that individuals who have limited leave to remain in the UK and no recourse to public funds do have support available to them. Access to public funds If you are currently residing in the UK on a Family or Private Life basis, you can make an application to access public funds if any of the following applies:

  • You’re destitute or at risk of destitution
  • Your child’s welfare is at risk due to low income
  • You’re in other exceptional financial circumstances Medical Treatment relating to Coronavirus (COVID 19)
  • Testing and treatment for coronavirus is free of charge even if your result is negative
  • No checks are undertaken to confirm an individual’s immigration status when seeking a test or treatment for coronavirus
  • If you have a medical condition that makes you vulnerable to coronavirus, then you can get help with deliveries of medication and food, etc.

If you are employed or self-employed in the UK You may be able to apply to access:

  • Coronavirus Retention Scheme provided to your employer
  • Statutory sick pay
  • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance, subject to if you have made sufficient national insurance contributions
  • You can apply for a grant through the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme if you are registered as self-employed If you are studying in the UK
  • If you are unable to attend your place of study due to coronavirus then your Sponsor should not report you in these circumstances
  • You can contact your consulate or embassy for support If you are unable to pay rent or mortgage payments
  • Landlords must give tenants 3 months’ notice of evictions
  • From 27th March 2020, all evictions and possession proceedings have been suspended for 90 days

Mortgage lenders will be able to offer repayment holidays of 3 months In addition to the above, Local Authority Social Services may be able to provide further support if you or a family member have specific care needs.

At Deo Volente Solicitors, we understand that individuals may face financial difficulties arising from these unprecedented times. We are offering telephone consultations to address any queries that you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01234 350244 and speak to one of our team members within the immigration department.

Have your financial circumstances changed since your last grant of leave?

Have your financial circumstances changed since your last grant of leave? Was your leave granted on the basis of your family or private life?

by Shazia Akhtar, Partner, and Head of Immigration Services

During these unprecedented times, we understand that people are struggling to make ends meet because of illness, self-isolation, school, or work closures. If you are currently in the UK on the basis of your family or private life, we can make an application for a change of conditions of leave. This will allow access to public funds because your circumstances have changed:

You can apply if:

  • your financial circumstances have changed since being given permission to stay in the UK and you are no longer able to provide food or housing for yourself or your family
  • your child is at risk because of your very low income
  • you had financial problems when you first applied but you did not provide evidence of this and you now want to provide this evidence

If your application is successful the conditions of your leave will be changed to allow you to access public funds. There is no Home Office fee for this application.

Eligibility

  • You’re eligible to apply for a change of conditions if:  you have leave to remain under the 10-year partner, parent or private life route
  • you have leave to remain on the basis of other ECHR right
  • You can also be eligible to apply if you have leave to remain under the 5-year partner/parent route.
  • If you’re accepted you would be considered to have moved on to the 10-year route to settlement.

You’ll qualify for an amendment to your conditions of leave only if:

  • you’re destitute
  • there are particularly compelling reasons relating to the welfare of your child on account of your very low income
  • there are exceptional circumstances in your case relating to your financial circumstances

A person is destitute if:

  • they do not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it (whether or not their other essential living needs are met)
  • they have adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it, but cannot meet their other essential living needs

If you meet the requirements for a change to the conditions of your leave to allow you to apply for public funds you will be told by letter or email.

This may include a request that you give biometric information (fingerprints and photographs). You would need to do this at a Service & Support Centre (SSC). Information on how to do this will be provided in the decision. A new biometric residence permit will be issued.

If you are worried about your financial position and would like to discuss your circumstances please call us on 01234 350244 and we will be happy to assist you.

We are here to help you! – Covid 19 Update

The health and safety of our staff, clients and fellow businesses is our given priority in any period. Due to current Covid-19 pandemic, we want to inform you that unfortunately, we will not be hosting face-to-face meeting for the foreseeable future. 

Fortunately, as a firm, we have adapted to the current circumstances to make sure that we are still open and available to you. Whether you are a current client, a new client or someone who would like some helpful advice from a trusted Solicitor regarding your situation and Covid 19; we have the following systems and procedures in place: 

  • We have the facilities in place to host an appointment via telephone or video call. Our lines our open as normal between office hours so please do not hesitate to call us on 01234 350244. 
  • Rather than post, you can send us any documents electronically. If you already have a solicitor, then you can send it to them via their email. If not, you can send any documents to our secure inbox info@dvsolicitors.com, which is being monitored round the clock. 
  • 
Worried about making payment? You can call us on 01234 350244 and speak to a member of our team to make payment securely over the phone. 
  • We are here for you! We have recently set up our Twitter: https://twitter.com/AskDeoVolente, which is available for anyone to use if they would like some bitesize advice regarding Covid 19. We understand there are a lot of questions that people have at the current time and we’re here to help answer those questions. Ask us anything and know you will be getting advice from a trusted solicitor! #AskDV 

Whilst the future may be somewhat uncertain, we can assure you that you can find certainty in DV Solicitors. We will continue to follow Government advice and closely monitor the situation, alas also maintain to put measures in place to ensure that we can deliver excellent customer service and help any persons where we can.  

We look forward to speaking to you on the phone, on Skype or on Twitter!  

Do contact us on 01234 350244

Discussing Domestic Violence and Coronavirus

Discussing Domestic Violence and Coronavirus
by Sabrina Begum, Litigation Paralegal

Since the outbreak of the novel virus, the National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a tragic 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since the infancy of the lockdown.

Domestic abuse can consist of the following, however, this is not an exhaustive list:

·        Physical abuse

·        Emotional and psychological violence

·        Financial abuse

·        Coercive control

Domestic abuse is a serious issue that affects many families. Evidently, the impact of self-isolation whilst in an abusive relationship has the potential to intensify a dangerous situation. A home is supposed to be a safe haven. For many this is not the case. Victims, who are isolated, are left with their perpetrators and unable to access their usual means of support.

Government guidelines state that individuals should not leave their house unless it is for an essential reason. However, Section 6 (2)(m) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 makes provision for people to leave their homes in order to avoid injury, illness, or to escape the risk of harm. This provision makes an exception for those at risk of domestic abuse as they can leave their homes to escape such a dangerous situation.

Charities are frequently advising that victims should ensure they have a close contact, such as a family member or even a close friend. They can stay with or contact this person if matters escalate and they need to leave their homes immediately.

Alternatively, there are a variety of options available to victims of domestic abuse. Court Orders being one of them. People who are experiencing domestic abuse can contact us to discuss the possible options available to them.

The 2 main remedies are a Non – Molestation Order and an Occupation Order. This gives victims the ability to access the courts and a means of escaping their abuser, despite restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

A non-molestation order protects anyone who suffers from violence, threats of violence, intimidation, harassment, or pestering. In order to apply for a non- molestation order there is not a specific category that you need to fall into. Generally, non- molestation orders are made for a period of 6-12 months, but these orders can be extended. A breach of the order can lead to a criminal offence and gives the police the power to arrest the respondent.

Alternatively, an occupation order regulates the occupation of the home. It can exclude the abuser from living in the home or prevent access in certain areas of the home. As aforementioned, it covers a wide range of reasons for which a person can apply.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or have any concerns about someone who is, give us a call on 01234 350 244 and we will be happy to assist you.