Coronavirus: Parents being asked by adult children if they can have a Will – Our advice to clients
It’s something that parents will likely shudder at; however, adult children have been asking their mothers and fathers about creating a Will as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the country.
Solicitors at Watermans Legal have been left surprised at the recent number of parents contacting them with enquiries about having the legal document drawn up for their sons and daughters.
Although the topic may seem controversial, if a young person wants to make a Will then that’s just fine.
Donald Wright, a solicitor at Watermans Legal, said: “I’ve had a number of separate clients who recently contacted me about their children wanting to enquire about making a Will.
“If a 21-year-old wants to make a will, it’s certainly lawful and there can be all sorts of sensible reasons for a young man or woman to set out his or her wishes on death.
“Bear in mind that the law makes provision about succession on death if the deceased has not prepared a Will. On intestacy it is family members who will inherit the estate.”
The minimum age for creating a Will is 16-years-old. Although the subject of death isn’t an easy one to discuss, a global health crisis tends to put subjects like these into perspective and it’s important to consider what options are available.
Let’s look at some scenarios and consider the benefits of having a Will contrasted with what happens without a Will;
A young married couple expecting their first child
A Will can leave each party’s estate to the survivor. With young children it is normal to include a clause about what happens if both parents die. This can direct the executor about investment and distribution of assets until the children reach a certain age. It may be wise to appoint an extra executor, not just the other spouse. Direction can also be stated in the Will about who will look after the children. But, in the event that both parents die, the test at the time of appointment of a guardian is what is best for the welfare of the children (not solely what is narrated in a Will).
If there is no Will the surviving spouse can claim most of the estate under the law of prior rights.
A young unmarried couple
If one party dies without a Will the other party does not have as strong a claim as if the couple were married. The survivor can make a claim under the law of cohabitation, but this involves raising a court action within six months of death. The amount to claim is less than a prior rights claim. Thus, making clear provision for the partner in a Will is very important. This can also apply to provide for children.
Single & owning a flat, no children
Without a Will the rules of intestacy provide that half the estate is inherited by parents and the other half is inherited by brothers & sisters. A Will can alter this provision. Consider inserting a clause to state that in the event of being married at death the spouse will prevail in taking the estate over any other parties mentioned in the Will.
Single with health problems
The lack of a Will makes the administration of an estate much more cumbersome. And the rules of intestacy will distribute the estate to family. A Will not only assists with the winding up process, but also gives the option of making specific bequests to friends and charities, if desired.
As a separate issue a Power of Attorney can be useful for a person with health problems.
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Posted by Lisa Boyle