This article first appeared in Business Brief.
Making a will takes thought and care but it does not need to be complex or time-consuming. Ogier's online service is providing Channel Islanders with a simple and accessible way to prepare a draft.
Ogier is now operating online wills portals in both Jersey and Guernsey which are helping to make the process of writing a will a more straight-forward task – but, crucially, one which is still supported from beginning to end by qualified advocates in both Islands.
For some time now, the firm has been committed to enhancing its services with appropriate technology and in the last few weeks, as social distancing measures have become commonplace as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become even more important that Islanders still have reliable, easy access to legal services as and when they are needed.
The Guernsey portal was launched most recently and has received positive feedback from clients, including those using the service since the lockdown began.
Guernsey Partner Martyn Baudains said: "The portal is designed help people take the first steps and makes sure that the process is as simple and clear to follow as possible, especially while social distancing remains in place. The service is not designed to replace the more traditional meetings where clients meet with an Advocate to give their instructions, but we know online services are becoming increasingly popular and this offers a supported way for people to get started."
Wills and Probate Manager in the Channel Islands Victoria Grogan said that clients who had used the Jersey portal, which has been operational for a year, had appreciated having the time and space to gather the information needed at their own pace and have been impressed with the speed of response once the questionnaire had been completed.
Victoria said: "Our clients are enjoying the flexibility that the service offers but also the comfort that our legal team, who are experts in Jersey or Guernsey on probate and estate matters will help them to ensure that their wishes are reflected clearly."
The separate portals for Jersey and Guernsey are tailored to cater to the needs of each Island's laws and regulations. The portal asks clients some important questions, and provides them with some guidance along the way. The answers and the draft will are then reviewed by an Advocate, and one of the team will follow up with any necessary questions before the draft will is sent to the client.
Once the client is happy that the will reflects their wishes a meeting will be arranged at which the will can be finalised. This can either be done in office or at the client's home (or in their garden), in line with current social distancing requirements, or, in Jersey (following the introduction of new regulations) via video-link. The Advocate will go over any remaining points with the client and the will can then be executed.
Victoria said: "A will is particularly important for the peace of mind it gives knowing that your affairs are in order. It means that your loved ones could be spared uncomfortable decisions and conversations at what will already be a difficult time."
The Jersey wills portal can be accessed at https://www.ogier.com/services/jersey-wills-portal and Guernsey's at https://www.ogier.com/services/guernsey-wills-portal