‘Massive increase’: Covid-19 sparks upsurge in people making wills

by Gordon Deegan

The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a large surge in people here looking to get their affairs in order by making their wills.

A number of solicitors confirmed today, Thursday, March 26, that there has been a “massive” increase in people making their wills in recent days.

Ennis-based solicitor, David Casey, stated: “There has been a huge upsurge in people making their wills.”

Casey stated that before the end of this week, he will have executed 12 wills over 10 working days.

He continued: “On average, I would probably make one or two wills every fortnight.”

Casey affirmed that, without exception, everyone has stated that it is Covid-19 that has prompted them to finalise their wills.

Casey said that he would have dealt with a large number of the clients previously on preparing their wills “and they have now decided to sign them in light of the present situation”.

Casey stated that “the age profile in the main is probably people in their 40s”.

One Co. Clare woman, along with her husband, was due to execute their will today with Casey and she stated that Covid-19 has been the reason for them finalising their will now.

The married mother of two said: “We saw David a couple of years ago in relation to getting our will done and just with life, everything got forgotten about.”

The woman in her 40s added: “We have decided to do something now because we have nothing in place to look after our children and it is just so worrying at the moment with the coronavirus, where people are dying who are healthy. “

The woman affirmed that the Covid-19 pandemic was “the biggest factor” in making the will now.

Gort solicitor, Ann Gillane, commented today that there has been “a huge increase” in people looking to finalise their wills and make wills with the practice.

A partner at the Galway-based Larkin Brophy Gillane Solicitors, Gillane said that the motivation for the people concerned is “a fear of not having their affairs in order with Covid-19”.

Gillane stated that the practice had four appointments today, concerning people executing their wills and this compared to”maybe three a week on average”.

President of the Clare Law Association, Patrick Moylan, said that there has been a “massive” increase in the numbers making wills right now due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moylan stated that, over the last few days, will making has accounted for 50% of his practice’s business, whereas, during more normal times, “it wouldn’t be a significant part at all”.

Moylan said that every precaution is being taken with elderly clients and he has made visits to the homes but hasn’t entered the homes to avoid the clients having come to his office.

Moylan said that he has witnessed the signing of a will by a client with another witness on Wednesday through a window in the home of a client.

The Kilrush-based solicitor stated: “It is a shame that the fear of Covid-19 is driving people to do their wills.”

The president of the Law Society, Michelle O’Boyle, has urged solicitors to take additional precautions to safeguard the health of clients and themselves when executing wills during this period of self-isolation and social distancing.

In a detailed circular emailed to members in recent days, O’Boyle has told solicitors to tell clients to bring their own pens for signing off on wills at solicitors’ offices.

O’Boyle stated if solicitors have to attend a client’s home, the solicitor and a second witness can witness the client sign a will through a window without having to enter the home.

In the e-bulletin, O’Boyle added: “Alternatively, if the client is sitting in their car when you arrive, they can sign on the dashboard of their car witnessed by you and the other witness.”

Speaking today, O’Boyle stated: “The Covid-19 medical and social emergency has for many people brought into sharp focus the fragility of life and, it has served as a useful reminder to think about the importance of putting personal affairs in order to ensure that their wishes are carried out.”