Ogier expert urges consideration of wills in light of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic is underlining the absolute importance of having an up-to-date, valid will, according to Cayman attorney Anthony Partridge.

He wants Cayman residents, or individuals needing to put in place Cayman Islands wills, to know that despite current restrictions, it is possible to make or update a will by getting advice from, and instructing, your attorney by video call, telephone or e-mail.

Partridge, who is head of Ogier's Private Wealth team in the Cayman Islands, says: "During a time like this, the signing and witnessing of wills does prove challenging. Electronic wills are widely used in other parts of the world, but the Cayman Islands does not yet recognise their validity. 

“Some countries have temporarily relaxed laws on strict witnessing requirements to allow remote witnessing by video conference, but we are yet to see these legislative changes in Cayman. However, people making a will, and their witnesses, can for example arrange to sign through a window and maintain social distancing."  

Meanwhile, he adds that the current scenario has sharpened the focus of the importance of making a will: "If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it's that life can be completely unpredictable. It is not possible to know what is around the corner and we are living through significant uncertainty and change to which we are all having to swiftly adapt.

“Living through a pandemic has brought matters of life and death to the fore for many of us, who are likely to be spending more time with those we live with, or be communicating on a more regular basis with those that we don’t. It's an opportunity to have conversations that would usually be considered difficult, and discuss topics relating to estate planning”, said Anthony.

Those questions could include:

• Who do you want to appoint as your executor and would they be willing to act
• Are you making any gifts to anyone or to charities 
• Who will be the guardian of your minor children
• What are your wishes in the event that you lose capacity with respect to your treatment and care
• Do you have any particular funeral wishes 

"Having these kinds of conversations now can alleviate uncertainty and family disparities in the future. If your family are aware of your wishes and the reasons behind them then there will be no surprises to them in due course which can help during a difficult time."