We often avoid thinking about getting old or ill and, as a result, it seems many of us fail to adequately prepare for our future decisions. This article from the Daily Mirror explores how writing a Will before you get old could soon become compulsory, following a judge’s recommendation.
Judge Justice Francis, based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, has proposed that everyone should be obliged to make a Will. He encouraged a campaign that would educate people about Living Wills and highlight the stressful situations that could arise when advance decisions are not considered.
In this blog post, we discuss why you need a Living Will and look at the case that spurred Judge Justice Francis’s proposal for compulsory Wills to exemplify how you could be impacted if you fail to put one in place.
A Living Will, also known as an advance decision, becomes relevant if a situation arises in which you lose the capacity to make your own decisions, which is a consequence of several illnesses. A Living Will allows you to make choices about your treatment that are legally binding if you can no longer communicate them, plus other decisions such as how a person would like to be cared for.
At Hook and Partners, we favour the suggestion to make writing a Will compulsory as we are constantly surprised by the number of people who do not have a Will in place. Without one, your assets and family are unprotected if something were to happen to you.
There are several cases where the courts need to get involved in situations that could easily be avoided by writing a Will. If someone were to pass away without a Will, companies such as Finders International work to trace the next of kin. This article from Finders discusses a case that helped bring this discussion of compulsory Wills to light:
“The case in question related to The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, who had asked for a ruling on the treatment of an elderly man in their care. Doctors at the hospital wanted to put a feeding tube into his stomach but needed the judge to rule on whether this would be lawful.
Lawyers representing the man did not object and the judge concluded that the pensioner couldn’t make the decision. However, the man’s family had been in conflict with the hospital over his treatment and had made negligence complaints. They did not attend the hearing.
The judge described the case as “very sad”, and that there were plenty of this kind of cases. If patients, while they still had the capacity to do so, made a Living Will, then the courts might not need to get involved so often.”
This exemplifies one of many situations where the desired outcome could have so easily been achieved if a Will had been in place. We often find that Living Wills are not considered until it is too late.
However, writing a Will is not your only option; another you may consider is appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney to make decisions on your behalf should you ever lack the capacity to do so yourself. For advice on what option is most suitable for you, contact our team.
We are a partner of choice for Finders and are one of the firms that act for BBC TV’s Heir Hunters. We have a dedicated Wills and Probate team who provide support, guidance and clarity throughout the entire Will-making process.
If you require any legal advice or assistance in making a Living Will or appointing a Power of Attorney, our expert solicitors offer Will-Writing services across Canvey and Essex. Contact us on email@example.com or call 01268 692255 to find out more.