COVID-19 and Estate Planning

COVID19 - Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Guardianship documents

Advice from government and health experts is that the most important thing that we can do for you and for Australia at this time is minimise face-to-face contact as much as possible.

COVID-19 poses particular challenges for Estate Planning services, including:

  • The need for multiple conferences with clients, which often exceed the recommended maximum duration of 30 minutes.
  • A higher number of clients who fall within high-risk categories (such as elderly or infirm persons).
  • The need for some documents to be personally witnessed by several people who must be in your physical presence.
  • The need for some documents to be personally explained to you and witnessed by a solicitor, who must be in your physical presence.

Our policies

In order to best protect you, our staff, and the community, Elringtons has implemented the following policies specific to our Estate Planning services:

  • Initial conferences must occur by way of telephone or video-link.
  • Draft documents will be prepared on the basis of your instructions and sent to you either by email or by post (if requested) for your review.
  • Once you are satisfied with your draft documents, a strategy will be implemented for the execution and witnessing of your documents. This will be dependant on your circumstances, availability of staff, health advice, and government directives at the time.

If you are required to self isolate, it may be impossible for some documents to be witnessed by us until your period of self-isolation is concluded.

What can you do to help?

You can help us to overcome or mitigate some of these challenges. Some things you can do to help include:

  • Providing a summary of your anticipated instructions by email before your initial teleconference.
  • Ensuring you are in a quiet location with no background noise when we contact you by phone.
  • If you are in a location with a poor mobile phone signal, using alternative devices (such as a landline phone, or a computer with a microphone).
  • Reading our online articles about Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Guardianship documents before our initial teleconference. You can find a complete list of these articles by clicking here.

Billing arrangements

It is possible that we may complete your documents and find that we are not able to meet with you again to witness the documents for an indefinite period. This could occur if a lockdown is declared, or if you are ordered to self-isolate.

At the time of our initial teleconference with you, we will provide you with an estimate of total costs for your matter. We will ask you to make a deposit into our trust account for our estimated costs of taking your instructions and preparing your draft documents. When the drafts are complete, we will raise an interim invoice for your matter and your deposit will be used to pay that invoice.

A final invoice will be raised upon the completion of your matter. That final invoice will be for our time spent reviewing the documents with you, providing advice, witnessing documents and signing any relevant certificates, and bringing the matter to completion.

We greatly appreciate your co-operation and patience during this difficult time. Please call our estate planning team with any questions or concerns about our policies and procedures, or if you require any further information.

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