While people across the world shelter in place, avoid unnecessary travel, and host virtual happy hours (not to mention their first-ever Passover and Easter celebrations), one theme seems to be on everyone’s minds: their own mortality.
The coronavirus has raised people’s existential thoughts, and lawyers and law firms are adopting to the increased interest in estate planning law, even if their traditional practices don’t typically cover wills and estates.
There are more instances of law firms getting calls about death-related matters than in recent times. One law firm in northern California shared how they were receiving “an unusual number of estate planning calls coming in as adults with time on their hands and concerns about their own mortality [tried] to get their affairs in order.”
According to NBC News, “deVere Group, one of the world’s largest financial advisory firms, recorded a 76% jump in demand for wills in the two weeks to the end of March. Meanwhile, life insurers have reported a spike in new business of as much as 50%.”
A BBC News report noted how wills were being “signed on car bonnets” as a result of the renewed interest in estate planning and because of social distancing. Meanwhile other law firms in England have taken note of the urgency with which clients are requesting wills and balancing that with the need for them to be signed, witnessed, and notarized.
This all boils down to an issue of access.
Law firms who focus on estate planning—and firms who are now taking it on because of increased interest—are being tasked with educating a nervous public about wills while also assuaging fears by navigating the changing tides of virtual justice as laws are relaxed in some cases and courts continued to be shuttered.
Regardless of the eventual outcome of this interest, estate planning lawyers need organization tools more than ever to handle the influx of potential clients as well as look ahead to when business as usual involves actual face to face client consultations.
Death, like the reopening of our courts, is inevitable. Only law firms that start planning for the day will be ready.