I was fortunate to beat Matthew Hansell in a game of virtual “rock, paper, scissors” to become chair with Matthew as deputy and Amanda Elwell becoming committee secretary. The committee formed at the start of the summer and has already drawn up terms of reference for approval by the BLS Council. We have no shortage of work to consider. If anyone wants to get involved then it’s not too late to join the committee; please email BLS (email@example.com).
HMCTS has issued a consultation on the mandating of all grant applications to be made online – see https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/non-contentious-probate-mandating-online-professional-applications – our first task as a committee is to respond on behalf of BLS members. If anyone has any particular views or opinions that they would like us to consider then please email the BLS office (firstname.lastname@example.org). Once the response is completed we shall share this with members shortly.
As mentioned, the other major change for the private client world is the proposals for changes to the witnessing of wills through the use of video conferencing technology. We are cautious in noting that the statutory instrument has yet to be placed before parliament and so it is premature to issue any guidance on the issue. Many practitioners have found ingenious ways of executing wills during the lockdown whilst sticking to the rules of social distancing and keeping to the requirements of the Wills Act 1837. If any member of BLS is finding witnessing of wills is a problem or they cannot find a suitable witnesses then please do not hesitate to email BLS (email@example.com) as we know many BLS members from firms big and small have been happy to assist in these difficult times.
This is going to be a busy time ahead with lots of changes to our traditional practice. The private client committee are looking forward to representing our members views in this changing time.