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Deathbed Wills - Dying Matters Awareness Week 2021

12 May 2021

What is a deathbed Will?

Many times over the years I have been called to the side of a bed, be it in a hospital, hospice or home, to talk to someone in the final days or hours of their life about what they want to happen when they are dead.

This is what is known as a ‘deathbed Will.’

Almost every time I see the same two things; the struggle from those who are dying to convey their wishes and the despair in the family who are losing precious moments with their loved ones due to my imposition.

On most occasions it is possible to put in place the final pieces of planning and the deathbed Will does what it needs to, but more often than not the process is rushed, things may have to be simplified and ultimately the person dying and the loved ones around them have their final moments spent with a lawyer in tow rather than in peace and comfort.

In other circumstances it is too late, the sleepy state which often precedes death makes it impossible to obtain instructions for the deathbed Will, and all that can be offered are words of comfort for those looking on, and forewarning of what may be to come.

The alternatives

The Intestacy Rules

When someone dies without a Will, the law decides who will benefit from their estate under the Intestacy Rules.

This can often have surprising consequences, especially in modern society where unmarried co-habitation, second marriages and long-term separations without divorce are more and more common. These are just some of the circumstances where the application of the Intestacy Rules could cause concern for other family members and lead to animosity within families and even legal challenges and claims against an estate.




Forward planning

It has to be said, there is no right way to deal with death, everyone faces death differently, and everyone deals with death in their own way. For those averse to speaking about death, having a conversation about making a Will and what will happen when they are no longer here is more than a taboo.

However, when making a Will it is just a conversation. Chat to me about your family and friends and tell me what things you have that you think are valuable to you, and very quickly you will form an opinion about your Will – it starts with a few simple questions, and yes they are miserable and to an extent morbid questions, but in its essence it is just a chat.

Having the time to think about these things, take advice and consider the options to make informed decisions is a privilege. It means that when the time comes, at least in relation to one aspect of matters, you are in a good place to die and those left behind are in a better place to deal with your death.

At Hay & Kilner our specialist team of Solicitors are here to help in relation to all aspects of Wills, succession planning, Inheritance Tax planning, Probate and Estate Administration. For a free initial chat please contact Richard Marshall on 0191 232 8345 or by email at richard.marshall@hay-kilner.co.uk.