Yesterday, the BBC published an article regarding ‘Willie’s Law’. A man named William Johnston, whilst being terminally ill in hospital, signed a contract which signed away a significant amount of assets to his business partner.
Two weeks later he told his family that he had no memory of signing this contract.
Even though the lawyer involved has faced professional misconduct sanctions, the contract that he signed remains valid. William Johnstone’s daughters are now advocating for “Willie’s Law” which would require a medical professional to co-sign legal documents of vulnerable individuals to ensure they have the capacity to make such decisions. His family describes their father’s final days as distressing due to worries about the farm and family legacy. Their proposed law aims to protect vulnerable individuals in similar situations.
This case presents complicated issues regarding assessments of mental capacity and the independence of the legal profession, as well as the impact on an already overstretched medical profession.
Should this movement gain traction, we would fully expect the Law Society to intervene.
The Importance of Having Your Affairs in Order
In the meantime though, this case emphasises the importance of having your affairs in order. No one knows what is around the corner. It highlights the importance of ensuring that your wishes are clearly documented and not leaving matters too late. Making a Will, Power of Attorney, or other legal documents can help prevent, rather than cause, disputes and provide peace of mind for both the individual and their loved ones in the future.
Jones Whyte understand that estate planning can be both a complex and emotional process. Our expert team is here to make it as easy as possible for you. The Will drafting process at Jones Whyte is managed with meticulous precision. Our skilled team of legal professionals have thorough attention to detail to ensure that each element of your Will is accurately addressed. From the initial consultation to the finalisation of the document, we take great care to capture and reflect your unique wishes and circumstances. This of course includes checks for capacity and if there is any dubiety whatsoever then our team do liaise with medical practitioners- regardless of whether this is the current law or not. This has been and will continue to be our practice in light of Willie’s story.
We understand that circumstances change throughout your life. As a result, we understand the importance of amending and updating your Will to reflect life’s changes. To support this, we offer Will amendments at a discounted fee. We also offer free storage of your Will for life safeguarding this from any risk of loss or damage.
There are clearly a lot of issues raised from Willie’s story. The most pressing one being that you should always have your estate planning in order as soon as possible. Jones Whyte guarantees that your Will is drafted properly and legally with expert input and will give you peace of mind. If you wish to discuss matters further, please contact us on 0800 292 2000.
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