Many Scots are at risk of not securing their rightful inheritances because of ‘will ignorance’ by family members, according to one of Edinburgh’s leading legal firms.
Gibson Kerr believes that a lack of knowledge about the process of making or changing a will could have calamitous results for people and their families.
The scale of issue was highlighted in a survey by Brunel University, which showed that just 47% of people in the UK believed that it is dishonest for a care home nurse to persuade an elderly patient to change a will in their favour.
The figure in the Brunel survey was even lower than the number of people who thought it was dishonest to download music from the internet or make a copy of a CD that they had borrowed from a friend – Gibson Kerr believes this is another example of how people are unsure about the legal intricacies of making or changing their will.
Making wills will protect family inheritance
The firm has also highlighted estimates carried out by the National Consumer Council, which indicate that between half and two-thirds of the population have not yet made a will, as a clear indication of the scale of the UK’s problem with “will ignorance”.
Fiona Rasmusen, Partner at Gibson Kerr, said that it was vital that people get suitable legal advice regarding the process of making or changing a will – particularly if they are elderly and vulnerable – in order to safeguard their families and loved ones.
She said: “The fact that anywhere between 50% and two thirds of the UK adult population haven’t yet made a will is a big concern. It’s one of the most important things you can do in order to make sure your family and loved ones receive a suitable amount of financial protection after you die. But many people do not currently know how to even go about making a will in the first place.
“It’s also worrying that many people don’t view a scenario where a nurse or care worker tries to persuade their patient to leave them something in their will as being wrong or even dishonest. You should always make a will and amend it after any big changes in your life, as this will ensure that you are choosing the right people who you want your estate to be left to – you should never be forced into making a change in your will due to external pressure or being made to feel guilty to do so.
Scottish PR for legal experts
“Although you have to be of sound mind in order to make or amend your will, this does not mean that you don’t run the risk of being pressured or prevailed upon by others to make any changes to it. Many vulnerable people can find themselves pressured into altering their will in order to include care workers, friends or estranged family members – but they should always try to get professional legal advice before making any changes.
“Making a will through your solicitor means that they will give you impartial advice that is the best for you and your dependents. They can also aid and advise you with any changes you plan to make with your will in the future, in order to ensure that these are decisions that you have agreed yourself without any external pressure – and that they will help benefit your nearest and dearest.
“If you don’t make a will – or even seek out the right advice about how to set one up or amend it – you could be leaving your loved ones at risk. You can’t afford to be ignorant about the options available to you if it means compromising the future security of your friends and family when you die.”
Gibson Kerr is a family-run law firm that has been established in Edinburgh for more than 100 years. It has an excellent reputation for providing a comprehensive service encompassing both property and personal law, including powers of attorney, executries and wills.