At the start of my career, as a young Articled Clerk, I was asked to dash to Middlesbrough Hospital with one of the senior solicitors in the Wills and Probate Department, where I was undergoing training.
It really was a mercy dash, we were based in Newcastle, and we had to get through the traffic to assist one of our business clients. The poor man was only in his forties and had been diagnosed as having a brain tumour. As we are talking thirty years ago, the prognosis was not as good as it would be today.
We had no internet; we couldn’t draft documents on a laptop. My colleague took a pen and paper and a precedent will. We sat by the man’s bedside and took instructions and drafted there and then. We proofread the document together and then our client signed his will.
He was to undergo a major operation within an hour of us leaving the hospital, and his wife was understandably very distressed. He was extremely lucky that it was a working day and that we were available to go and see him. We could quite easily have been out doing home visits when the call came. I am pleased to report that our man survived his operation. I had been quite shocked by the whole episode; I knew that if his will wasn’t signed, then the wrong people stood to inherit rather a lot of money.
I hadn’t thought about this chap for years until the same thing happened again. I was contacted by an adult son whose mother had gone into hospital for a routine operation. He had arrived in the North East to look after his mum post operation. However, his mum’s operation did not go as planned, and she was still in hospital weeks later. Things were becoming desperate, and it was touch and go as to whether or not she would survive. It was also Friday afternoon on a Bank Holiday weekend.
I spent some time talking to the son about his mother’s wishes. She wanted to destroy her old will and start again. It was important to her to remove a number of charities who were to receive too much money from her estate now that it had diminished in value. A Rookie mistake to give x the first £ thousands of your estate. Unless you absolutely want to guarantee a family member a specific amount of money at the expense of the residuary beneficiaries, it’s always best to leave the specific monetary gifts as a percentage of your estate.
Mum had also realised that if she had charities involved in her estate, then her son could not, as Executor, choose to give her personal possessions to whoever he thought should benefit. The charities would expect every last penny they could get, meaning that all personal items would have to be sold.
Our patient also wanted to have two Lasting Powers of Attorney drawn up. However, given that it takes weeks to have them registered, even on an emergency basis, I couldn’t see the point in spending an extended period of time in the hospital with a very tired and sick patient. It was highly likely that she wouldn’t make it home. We agreed that if her health did improve then the issue of the LPA’s should be revisited.
I made a number of suggestions as to how the will should be redrafted. The son went back to the hospital, discussed with his mum, she agreed, and I spent part of my Bank Holiday weekend drafting a new will. I attended at the hospital and spent a pleasant hour with the son and then his mother. She was able to sign the will. It was very quiet, the client and her son were in a reflective mood, they told me all about their lives, and I felt that I had genuinely helped this family.
But what is the common theme here?
A last minute dash by a solicitor to someone’s bedside. What are the chances of finding a solicitor who is around on a Bank Holiday?
Are you going into hospital for a routine operation?
Have you made a Lasting Power of Attorney?
In this case, if the client returns home, she will definitely need one. She can’t get out to sort out her banking for one thing. The son was quite prepared to take over dealing with all of his mother’s state benefits, bank accounts, dealing with social services contracts or help at home contracts plus council tax and utility bills.
If you need to discuss your Will or a Lasting Power of Attorney, I can be contacted on email@example.com
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If it’s urgent then include your telephone number.
Otherwise, you can ask for a NO Obligation FREE Will Review by phoning:
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or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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