Supporting the Bereaved During the Pandemic

20 July 2020

By Adele Bebbington-Plant, Head of Wills, Trusts & Estates

Losing a loved one is never easy and in the current circumstances is especially difficult, as nothing is as it would usually be. Registering the death can only be done by telephone, funerals cannot be attended by all who would wish to, and financial institutions are often running on reduced staff.

Our Wills, Trusts & Estates team have been dealing with the administration of estates for many years and are skilled at supporting people through the bereavement. Beyond our legal and technical knowledge, we aim to provide practical advice and compassionate support at what is a very difficult time.

When you lose someone close to you there is a lot of disruption and distress, dealing with the administration of an estate when you are already upset can be daunting. From our very first consultation we aim to put clients’ minds at ease. We talk them through the next steps, reassure them that there is a clear plan of action and that as we have a thorough understanding of what is involved, we will guide them throughout the whole process.  Even where the administration of an estate does not require any legal work to be carried out by us, we can provide useful and reassuring information during the initial telephone conversation such as how to register the death and how to use the UK Government’s Tell Us Once service, which notifies all Government Departments and what, if any, issues require urgent attention.

During the pandemic we have encountered many new and testing situations, however it has been our aim to continue delivering the same essential services within the parameters set by the UK lockdown. I am proud to say that our team have risen to this challenge, here are just a few examples of how we have helped and adapted:

Securing Property and Belongings
We have attended several properties which have been left unoccupied after a death to ensure that the property and any valuables within it were secured. These visits have been carried out in line with Government guidance with our team in appropriate PPE ensuring the safety of our clients and colleagues.

Appointments and Document Signings
We have had to be very adaptable and at times creative when arranging appointments and witnessing client’s document signings. Throughout the lockdown we have had a “clean room” on site for document signings by appointment only.

In addition, we have arranged and attended meetings and document signings at several of our clients’ homes and in some new locations for us including; on car bonnets, wheelie bins, garden tables and in public car parks and other public spaces. All of which have been conducted in a socially distanced manner in line with the Government guidance.

Video calls
Zoom and Skype meetings have become the new norm, and this has provided the added advantage of enabling family members scattered across the Country who would not have been able to travel to our offices to attend. This in turn has meant that all parties can be involved in dealing with the administration of their loved one’s estate.

If you would like our help, support and advice on a probate matter, contact a member of our Wills, Trusts & Estates Department on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.