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Addressing Inheritance Issues Prior to Death of Your Loved One

By: Mike Watson - Updated: 20 Mar 2012 | comments*Discuss
Tax Inheritance Senile Dementia Relative

Issues around Wills and inheritance can be tricky after death, bringing up age old family and friendship antagonisms. This is well known and something that can only really be tempered by careful planning before death. Unfortunately, as people get older their minds inevitably get slower, whilst the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s sometimes makes it difficult for the elderly to know what’s happening at all. For this reason it may be felt reasonable to step in and make suggestions to a an elderly relative prior to death.

Understandably however, a question exists over whether this is ethical. Whilst you may well feel that you have a right to do this in order that your relative or loved one is not taken advantage of by undesirable other elements, you may well be accused of trying to take advantage yourself.

The Right Approach

Prior to making any attempt to deal with someone else’s will ascertain that it is in their best interests. If they are of sound mind it may be that they need no help. If you think that they have been manipulated ask yourself if you are being unfairly biased. A lot of trouble can be saved by letting things be taken care of by the person whom the will most concerns.

The best approach to dealing with the will of an elderly or sick person may be to involve everyone close to the person who you are concerned about. Transparency initially will avoid the worst of the disputes arising later. When you have done this and you have ascertained that you have the trust of everyone (if possible) talk to the person who you feel either needs to make a will or needs to amend one.

In all probability if you have decided to do this it is because this person suffers from Alzheimer’s, also known as Senile Dementia. They may be confused, yet both of these diseases are characterised by moments of clarity, especially in the early stages. Other than this talk to the persons health care worker and then their solicitor. It must be established whther the person who’s behalf you are acting on has ‘testimentary capacity’ (the ability to make decisions for themselves about a will) or not. The Solicitor and Dr will confer on this. If you wish to change the will of the person you are concerned about the decision must go to court, and this can be a lengthy process. For further advice talk to your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

If the person you are dealing with is fully aware of everything around them and well enough to make a decision regarding their will and you merely wish to talk to them about Inheritance Tax options open to them whether or not this is a good idea will really depend on your relationship with them. It may be in some cases that your help will be welcome especially if an elderly relative wishes to give gifts and is not sure how best to go about it. See related article for details on the giving of gifts in relation to inheritance tax. Though if this is the case your only hope of salvaging anything may be by appealing against the will after their death.

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