While restrictions were in place during the COVID pandemic, it was impossible for professional willwriters to (legally) meet someone who was literally on their deathbed and produce that person’s Will. They could have done it by telephone but the risk of something going wrong in that situation is high. However, now restrictions are lifted, it would be possible to meet a dying person and produce their Will.

However, this would rely on the dying person meeting well-established criteria for mental capacity to produce a Will. Specifically, these criteria are that the person understands what a Will is and its effects, they have a fair understanding of the extent of their property, and they consider any persons who would normally expect to inherit e.g. partners and children.

The person would also require the energy to give their own instructions and either sign the Will themselves, or direct someone else to sign on their behalf.

When someone is terminally ill, especially if their health is declining rapidly, they could see making a Will as something that would add extra stress and distract from spending positive time with their loved ones. Thus, even if a Will is made in this situation, the added pressure may mean the final result is not exactly what the person would have wanted in normal circumstances.

A relative disappointed by the Will, could argue that this pressure has clouded the person’s judgement.

Verbal deathbed wishes, e.g. telling a son “I want you to have my house, not your sister”, are unlikely to be confirmed by a court without solid evidence.

We recently produced a Will for a man who felt his time was coming to an end; he told us “I’m not even buying green bananas any more”. Fortunately he had few assets and no family, just a close friend he wanted to inherit the few thousand pounds he had in the bank, so his situation was simple. But this won’t be the case for everyone.

It is better to produce a Will earlier, when a person is relatively healthy and can take the time to understand what they are doing and think carefully about what they want to happen to their property after their death, rather than doing it under pressure of illness and when they would rather spend their remaining time positively with loved ones.

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