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Law firm pioneers online system as virus threat sparks a surge in wills

Director and Head of the Private Client department Lynette Viney-Passig. Picture Mandy Jones

A North Wales law firm which has seen a surge in demand for wills and family-related enquiries during the Covid-19 lockdown is the first in Wales to pioneer a new remote service developed by a former computer games inventor.

Swayne Johnson has seen a 60 per cent spike in enquiries about wills immediately after lockdown.

At the same time there has been a rise in enquiries relating to Powers of Attorney and family law issues around arrangements concerning children and finances.

Social distancing has seen the firm’s lawyers in gloves and armed with hand-sanitiser obtaining signatures in gardens and through open windows while family courts are operating remotely by video and telephone conferencing.

Director and Head of the Private Client department Lynette Viney-Passig puts much of that down to the pandemic and she said: “It has certainly concentrated minds where wills are concerned.

“Understandably, people are anxious and have sought reassurance that the firm remains open for business and they can still get a professionally prepared will and advice on getting their affairs in order.

“We had been looking for some time at online systems that would help us to improve the accessibility of our services and engage with clients at their convenience and we came across Settify.

“We’re delighted to be the first firm in Wales to introduce it. Clients can now visit our website and start the will making process in the comfort of their own home and at a time that suits them.

“They can use the online system to enter as much or as little information as they feel comfortable with. Settify then intelligently uses that information to guide the client through the will making process, explaining terminology and highlighting points for consideration along the way.

“Once a client has engaged with us using Settify, we allocate the new matter to a member of our excellent team of lawyers who then makes contact to discuss the best way to move forward.

“At the moment, we are meeting with clients over the telephone or via video conferencing.

“Once the will has been prepared and is ready to be signed we are happy to visit clients at home to complete the signing, taking gloves and hand sanitiser with us, but if necessary we can even do that remotely, watching and telling clients when and where they and their witnesses need to sign.

“With the cooperation of helpful neighbours acting as witnesses when necessary we have been able to do all that while observing social distancing.”