9th April 2020
This current period of uncertainty has led to more people taking the time to write their wills. For many, the lockdown is an opportunity to take stock and consider this task carefully. For others, the need to write or amend is more pressing due to illness.
Solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills are considered key workers by the government, and it is still business as usual for us. At Thrings, we are encouraging our clients to approach their will in the same way as if they were in full health. Our solicitors can still help you consider your choices and ensure your will is valid.
Making your will if you are unwell
As solicitors, we must make sure every will we create for our clients is valid, to ensure your wishes are carried out appropriately. We need to ensure your will is signed properly and we also have to ensure you (the testator) have the mental capacity to make your decisions freely and that you are not being coerced in any way. We also assess whether any medication could be affecting your judgement. If there is no proof of mental capacity, it could cause the will to be challenged later. In some cases, we may need to liaise with your doctor to confirm mental capacity but we would never do this without seeking your authority first.
In usual circumstances, we meet our clients in person to discuss their circumstances, finances, assets and potential beneficiaries. This conversation provides the opportunity for you and us to ask questions and explore any potential complications. We also use the meeting to ensure you are mentally capable and not under duress. Thankfully, during the coronavirus lockdown, video calls are helping us to see clients and have these important conversations, ensuring our legitimacy checks are just as stringent as usual.
Choosing your beneficiaries during times of uncertainty
Choosing your beneficiaries and how to divide your estate may be more complex at the moment due to the economic uncertainty caused by coronavirus. Children or other relatives who are not currently dependent on you may find themselves in a difficult financial situation should their circumstances change as a result of coronavirus.
You may find it helpful to speak to a wills lawyer about your and your family’s specific circumstances. We can talk you through the options, helping you decide how best to support those who will benefit from your estate.
Speaking to beneficiaries while you are unwell
It can sometimes be helpful to speak to beneficiaries about your wishes before you finalise your will but there is, of course, no requirement for you to do this. In some situations, administering an estate can become problematic. Family members may feel disappointed by the way the estate is divided or unhappy with how a sole executor is handling matters. Having the chance to talk through the arrangements first can help the process run smoothly later.
Although it can help executors to know that you have appointed them, you are under no obligations to speak to anyone about the contents of your will. The document is confidential and does not become public until grant of probate is issued after your death. We can help you decide who would be best to appoint as your executor(s).
The only part of your will that is not legally binding are your funeral wishes, and you might like to discuss these with your loved ones to make sure they understand your requests.
To speak to a specialist wills lawyer about your estate and plans for the future, contact us today. We can set up video call, giving you the opportunity to discuss your wishes freely with an expert.