Lime Solicitors and its charity partner, the Anne Robson Trust, have launched a new campaign encouraging the public to speak with their loved ones about their wishes after they die.
Despite inheritance disputes being on the rise, death and end of life wishes remain a taboo subject, with just one third of people in new polling by Lime Solicitors saying they had discussed the topic with loved ones. This generally increases with age, but shockingly still stands at just 37 percent of people aged over 55 years old. The research also found that more than a quarter (26 percent) of people do not know or are unsure how to approach preparing a legally binding will.
Will disputes that proceed to a final trial can put huge financial strain on clients, potentially escalating to sums in excess of £100,000, in additional to the emotional pressure. The Let’s Talk About the End campaign intends to raise awareness of the will making process and encourage people to start having more open conversations.
Alongside this, the firm is asking the Law Commission to reassess the formalities around will making to ensure processes are in line with the technology led world we now live in. The Covid-19 pandemic catalysed a shift in will making processes and showcased the electronic possibilities for wills such as witnessing signatures using video technology. Lime Solicitors believe it is important that this shift to modernised processes is maintained on a more permanent basis going forward.
Liz Pryor MBE, CEO and Founder of end-of-life charity, The Anne Robson Trust comments:
“My mother Anne died unexpectedly, after an extremely unpleasant week in hospital. Not only did my family have to cope with the shock and grief of her death – we also discovered that her will was not up to date. This caused a huge amount of upset – some of which continues 12 years on.
“This experience led me to set up the Anne Robson Trust to support people who are dying, and their loved ones. We help NHS hospitals across the country to set up teams of ‘end of life’ volunteers who sit with dying patients. These amazing volunteers have made over 10,000 visits to patients in their last days, many of whom have no other visitors at all.
“Last year we set up a helpline to provide emotional support people who have received a terminal diagnosis, or someone who will soon lose a loved one. The helpline is free to call and it provides help, comfort, and equips people for what comes next. Please call if we can help you – on 0808 801 0688.
“It can be uncomfortable to talk about death, but I encourage people to be brave. Talk to your loved ones. It will give you both peace of mind and can help avoid a lot of mess and upset in years to come.
“Our ‘My Wishes’ guide is a free resource to help with this conversation. It is a checklist of things you want your family or friends to know in the event of your death, and where to find important information. Filling this out and discussing with a loved one could be one of the most important conversations you’ll have.”
Andrew Wilkinson, Head of Inheritance Disputes at Lime Solicitors comments:
“End of life wishes have been a taboo subject for too long and not talking about them can result in heartbreak and financial loss for bereaved families. As contentious probate lawyers, we sadly see all too often how difficult it can be for families when things go wrong after a loved ones passes away, and where disputes could have been avoided had proper conversations taken place. We also see situations where someone dies, having clearly expressed their wishes, but those wishes are not implemented, because of a failure to comply with strict legal processes.
“The current law does not allow the court to dispense with the formalities of a will, irrespective of the circumstances, even when it clear that the terms of their will (or the intestacy) rules do not reflect their wishes. We think that such a provision should be brought into law, but even that is not the answer alone. Everybody should have a will in place.
“The Law Commission’s three-year review of the law surrounding wills is currently paused, and the timetable under review, but the pandemic has shown that changes can be made to the rules surrounding wills. Further changes are desperately needed in order to bring the will making process into the 21st century.
“We want to see a timetable set for the early implementation of the recommendations made by the Law Commission, in order to make the will-making process more streamlined, and to help remove the barriers in place for the significant number of people currently unaware of how to approach creating a will. We also think that the court should be allowed to dispense with the will-making formalities in appropriate situations.
“We would urge the public to talk about their end of life wishes with their loved ones and to take proper advice in order to ensure that their wishes are implemented.”