Lots of people don’t like to think about wills. It reminds them that one day they’re going to die. Others think that it must be complicated or tricky and both reactions are perfectly understandable. But now, more than ever, people need to use – excuse the pun – will-power.
Nearly two-thirds of the UK adult population don’t have a will which is bad enough and can add untold misery and financial stress to the bereaved, but even for those who do have a will, there are issues to be aware of – issues which could be lead to rightful inheritances being lost if not resolved by your family solicitor.
A recent survey by Brunel University highlighted that only 47% of people surveyed believed that it is dishonest for a care home nurse to persuade an elderly patient to change a will in their favour.
I have not personally come across such a situation and I know that any reputable care home will have policies in place to prevent this kind of thing happening.
However, it does highlight the fact that pressure can be brought to bear on elderly, sometimes vulnerable, people to leave their money to certain people close to them. Putting pressure on someone – which can be as subtle as ‘can I be in your will’ or as manipulative as ‘what will I do to provide for my family after you’re gone’ – may not be illegal but I would certainly say that it is morally questionable. And while many people may not think there’s anything wrong with saying ‘what about putting me in your will as a thanks for everything I do’, how would you feel if you lost money, property or something of a sentimental value – a ring, a necklace, a home – because someone had persuaded a member of your family to include them? Between the lack of wills – and the wills that do exist being manipulated, these two facts add up to a worrying future for people.
For the dead it won’t be much of an issue as they’ll have passed on. But before they do so, everyone should want to make sure that not only do their loved ones get as much as possible, but that the right loved ones get what is coming to them.
To that end, that’s why solicitors are crucial in this. Not only will they make sure that a will has been prepared properly, but they will also provide sound, independent advice. This is why it’s an idea to get into the habit of thinking that when you do anything with your will, you consult a solicitor about it because they will provide objective advice to you away from anyone who may be applying pressure to be included in a will or given more in a will.*
Gibson Kerr is a family-run law firm that has been established in Edinburgh for more than 100 years.
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