The COVID-19 crisis is underlining the importance of having an up-to-date valid will, according to Cayman Islands attorney Anthony Partridge.
The Ogier lawyer said during a time like this, the signing and witnessing of wills does prove challenging, noting that the Cayman Islands does not yet recognise the validity of electronic wills that are widely accepted in other parts of the world.
Nevertheless, it is possible to make or update a will by getting advice from, and instructing, an attorney by video call, telephone or email.
“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,” Partridge said in a press release. “However, people making a will, and their witnesses, can for example arrange to sign through a window and maintain social distancing.”
Partridge said the current crisis is emphasising 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,” he said.
“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 do not.”
The attorney said it was an opportunity to have a conversation that is typically considered difficult and discuss topics related to estate planning.
This could include who would be potential executors and if they were willing to act, the consideration of making gifts to individuals or charities, and the guardianship of minor children.
It should also explore one’s wishes regarding treatment and care in the event of capacity loss, as well as particular funeral wishes.
“Having these kinds of conversations now can alleviate uncertainty and family disparities in the future,” Partridge said. “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.”