A year in the life of Felicity Nelson
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Having moved to Samuel Phillips Law in September 2020 and spending my first few months with the firm in and out of lockdown and tiers and adapting to hybrid working, I was looking forward to 2021, to a fresh start in my new, wonderful firm. The vaccination programme was progressing more quickly and efficiently than anywhere else, and I was hopeful for a COVID-free year. Sadly, as we know, 2021 turned out to be turbulent with COVID unfortunately not disappearing.
However, as we all adapted to the ‘new normal’ way of living and taking precautions, I took the same approach with work. Thanks to safety measures implemented in the office including compulsory mask wearing, screens, temperature checks and enough hand sanitiser to sink a ship, I have been able to continue to help my clients with Wills, Estate Administration, Powers of Attorney, Trusts and other matters throughout 2021.
The area of law I practise in remains heavily paper based with ‘wet signatures’ remaining compulsory on many documents and physical witnessing of signatures also often essential. Even the temporary change to the law on the witnessing of Wills introduced in the earlier days of the pandemic to allow Wills to be witnessed over video platforms such as Zoom is due to expire on 31 January 2022. Whilst I suspect this temporary change will be time extended as the country continues to battle waves of infections, my team and I have taken the view throughout the pandemic to stick to physical witnessing of Wills (the original law has been in place since 1837, an amendment to this only valid for a couple of years sounds like a recipe for disaster to me!). In the height of lockdown, this meant being creative and car bonnets, garden furniture and garden walls replaced the usual meeting room setting for signing Wills. 2021 saw some relaxation which allowed us to open our office doors to clients in a COVID-secure manner to allow documents to be signed and witnessed correctly.
Whilst we have been forced to adapt, 2021 has still been a very tough year for many, not least those dealing with the loss of a loved one, whether that be to COVID or another cause. The expected grief added to the anxiety, uncertainty and isolation the pandemic has caused, meant dealing with the administration of estate was too much for many to handle. Being able to relieve my clients of this stress has been bittersweet.
The ongoing pandemic has also given many the push they needed to get their own personal affairs in order- namely updating their Will and making Lasting Powers of Attorney. Since I began practising this area of law four years ago, I have been a huge advocate for Lasting Powers of Attorney and I remain passionate about educating people on their importance’s, uses and what happens when you don’t have them in place. The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately provided many more case studies for me to use when I continue with my mission to ensure every person has Lasting Powers of Attorney in place.
As we move into 2022, whilst I am hopeful that the end of any restrictions on our lives is near, there are some changes the pandemic has brought to us which I intend to continue with. Namely, flexible hybrid working between the office and home and continuing to offer telephone and/or video calls to all clients for appointments where appropriate. This has proven to be very helpful and efficient for busy clients and allows me to assist clients who do not live locally.
As I reflect and look forward to another year assisting clients existing and new and to (hopefully) my first holiday abroad since 2019, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year.