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Key Tips and Guidance for Helping Your Older Relatives Write a Will

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Talking about death is never an easy thing to do. It is an uncomfortable truth and one with which many of us never make proper peace. Unfortunately, though, there is a lot of administration that comes with the advent of one’s death – an administration that is best organised as soon as possible. Regarding eoder relatives, there is a significant chance that they do not have a valid will and testament for when they pass.

It may be the case that your elder relative is suffering from a degenerative condition, which could render them not of sound mind to write their own will. In cases such as these, it is possible to apply for a statutory will through the Court of Protection. This, though, is a topic for another time. Here we are concerned with how to broach will-writing with your elderly family members, and how to think about challenges as they appear.

What to Include

Ideally, a will would neatly divide the entirety of one’s estate between designated family, friends, trusts, and charitable organisations. This requires a fairly robust accounting of the value and size of said estate, from the property and other physical assets to cash holdings and other forms of saving. A marginal Inheritance Tax rate of 40% applies to any estate value over a £325,000 tax-free threshold – something to bear in mind when apportioning the estate to beneficiaries. Tax is paid by the executor before apportionment, but this should be made transparent to relevant parties.

Choosing an Executor

Here, it is vital to reinforce that your role in drafting this will should be as minor as possible, where possible. Any decisions should be entirely your relative’s to make, and your hand should do little more than guide them to dividing assets they may have forgotten about or help them logistically. As one of the closest relatives to your elderly family member in question, you may be a good fit for the executor of the will – though, again, this must be their decision to make.

Bracing for Challenges

In writing up a will, it is also crucial to recognise the potential for challenges – both personal and legal. No family is perfect, but even the more harmonious of extended families can see difficulties arise through decisions made in a loved one’s will. Some members of the family may feel hard done to by their level of inclusion or inheritance, and may even question the legitimacy of the will.

This is why legal counsel comes highly recommended concerning the drafting and execution of a will. You may already have a solicitor on hand to verify and validate the will, but retaining the services of a legal firm can also be important for the fielding of litigation against the estate. With any luck, concerns or discontentment with the will’s contents can be dealt with in a private and personal fashion. Sometimes, though, the legal route is unavoidable, and representation essential.

There may be opportunities to head off any potential challenges early, particularly in closer-knit families and situations where more hands are on deck – such as when an elderly relative reaches the end of their palliative care journey. As with the drafting of the will, its execution is a matter to be broached and attended to gently.


Please note. When They Get Older and its partners offer useful general tips for supporting older family and friends. Please check latest information and talk to legal experts for full advice.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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