My Relative Is Making A Will, Why Can’t I Be Part Of The Meeting?
‘My relative is making a Will, why can’t I be part of the meeting?’ Wills and Probate Solicitor Megan Lovell discusses in her latest blog…
If you are assisting a relative or a friend and bringing them to the office for an appointment for making a Will, do not be surprised if the solicitor asks to see that person alone. It may be that you help them daily and help them to make important decisions, however this does not mean you should attend an appointment regarding their Will. This is because it is important a solicitor sees the person alone to take their Will instructions. This is especially important where an older or vulnerable person is concerned.
Why Can’t I Join My Relative In Their Will Meeting?
Firstly, solicitors have to establish who the client is and who to take instructions from. The client is the one to whom a solicitor owes professional duties such as confidentially. This means that a solicitor has an obligation to keep the information and all communications between themselves and the client confidential, and they cannot be shared with any other family members or people involved in their lives without the client’s consent.
Secondly there could be a conflict of interest, which means that your interests might conflict with those of your loved one. This is an issue as a solicitor can only represent their client. This can arise for example where there is a property, such as a family home, where more than one person has an interest which could potentially conflict depending on the client’s instructions.
Asking A Relative To Sit Outside The Meeting Room
During the appointment, some clients may not feel they are confident enough to say exactly what they want without family members or friends present for reassurance. However, a solicitor is there to offer the client guidance and support, giving the client enough time to explain what their wishes are. Even those who are in the early stages of dementia are usually able to communicate well enough to give instructions. In contrast, sometimes having family members or friends present can put a client off from saying what they truly want.
Part of the solicitor’s role in the appointment is assessing the client’s capacity to make decisions. Many clients can communicate and explain what their instructions are and what they want to achieve. However, some clients can struggle with this and do not fully understand why they are there and what they want to achieve. By seeing the client alone this allows the solicitor to determine if the client can provide instructions and if they fully understand those instructions. If family members attend the meeting, it can be difficult for the client to communicate as they rely on their family member to do the talking for them.
It is important that the solicitor can identify who they are representing and able to assess the client’s capacity, as this not only protects the client and their wishes, but also protects the family. It is not uncommon for Wills to be challenged on the grounds of undue influence over the vulnerable client, perhaps where someone has benefited unjustly or has been excluded from the Will.
It is therefore important that family members and friends distance themselves from being involved in the preparation of the Will by waiting in reception, or dropping their relative off at the office, and coming back to pick them up after the meeting has finished. Please do not be offended if you are asked to step out of the meeting when the client is giving their instructions.
How We Can Help
If you would like any information with regards to preparing a Will then please contact me on 01530 564498 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, visit the Wills and Probate section of our website here.