LONDON, ONT. -- COVID-19 has changed many aspects of our lives, but it has also caused some Londoners to prepare for worst case scenario in light of COVID-19, by preparing a will or powers of attorney.

Wills, powers of attorney and estate lawyer Daniel McNamara from Menear Worrad and Associates, says his workplace received 50 per cent more inquiries at the beginning of the pandemic from March to June 2020.

“We noticed a tremendous uptick in the number of people calling for either new wills or powers of attorney or changes to their existing documents.”

During the lockdown, the province had given the green light for wills and powers of attorney to be signed virtually.

McNamara says a number of people in London during the early months of the pandemic, who were not prepared for the worst case scenario, had to tend to their wills and documents while in hospital beds.

“We had people in the hospital and they were getting their wills and documents signed while they were in the hospital by using virtual facilities that they had…a number were related to COVID-19.”

The owner of O’Neil Funeral Home in London, Joseph O’Neil, is also hammering home the message that wills, powers of attorney and estate documents are useful at any age, especially during a pandemic.

“COVID-19 is one of the most insidious diseases I have ever seen,” he says.

An aspect of O’Neil’s job is travelling to neighbouring cities to transfer the deceased from hospital morgues to his funeral home.

O’Neil says through those experiences, he has seen how deadly COVID-19 can be.

“I had to go to the Windsor hospital about a week-and-a-half ago. I gave the security guard at the hospital the name of the deceased, he says, ‘We’ll go find them.’ I said, ‘unfortunately they died of COVID-19,’ he said, ‘It doesn’t matter, they are all COVID cases’…it was like a sledgehammer on the side of the head.”

In light of the unpredictability of COVID-19, both O’Neil and McNamara urge those who can, to consider formulating a will or document through a lawyer.

“Even the simplest will, and power of attorney document will save a tremendous amount of time, anxiety and expense for the families…Thereby reducing their anxiety and devote all their energy to getting better from COVID-19 if that's what they were in hospital for,” says McNamara.

O’Neil says it’s always the first option to seek out a lawyer, but he says he would look at an online power of attorney kit if finances are low.

"We bought a ‘do-it-yourself’' power of attorney kit, I would still highly suggest getting a lawyer because a lot of people will put stuff in their will that maybe isn’t legal or appropriate. However, I would rather have one of those than nothing at all.”