24 March 2021

Why locating the will of P is imperative when acting as a professional deputy

Chantal Ul Haq-Weedon Senior Solicitor

The National Will Register plays a crucial role in the work of those involved in applying for Statutory Wills, or need to expedite their Property and Affairs and Health and Welfare Deputy or Attorney responsibilities with the upmost due diligence. Locating a Will for a Protected Party ((P), someone who has lost capacity) can assist in understanding their wishes and feelings so that the Deputy or Attorney can act in their best interest. For example, by locating the Will it can help to establish end of life wishes and how they wish for their estate to be distributed so that particular assets will not be sold by the Deputy or Attorney.

A Certainty Will Search is able to assist in Court of Protection matters by locating a Will for P. A Certainty Will Search locates Wills registered on The National Will Register and for Wills that have not yet been registered. In 2020, there was a 282% increase in Certainty Will Searches conducted for Court of Protection matters in comparison to 2019.

A Certainty Will Search is invaluable when acting as a Deputy for somebody who has lost capacity and helps to ensure that you are acting in their best interest. An example of this is when I was acting for a Deputy for P after their previous Deputy had mismanaged their funds. P was elderly and had no next-of-kin or family. To help establish her wishes and feelings, and to ensure the Deputy was acting in her best interest, I conducted a Certainty Will Search to establish whether P had previously made a Will which would assist the Deputy in making informed decisions about their property and affairs and welfare.

Around the same time, P was admitted to hospital and was refusing to take medication or eat any food. The hospital was preparing to conduct a capacity assessment as they needed to determine if P had the capacity to make these decisions about her hospital treatment.

Whilst P was in hospital, the Certainty Will Search located a living Will that confirmed what treatment P would or would not accept if she was diagnosed as being end of life. The Will revealed that P had specific wishes on how she did not want to be artificially fed or receive medication at this time and that she wanted to die with dignity. The hospital therefore agreed to discharge P so that they could receive palliative care at the care home where they lived. It is imperative that as a Deputy, you act with due diligence when making decisions for P. As this case demonstrates, by conducting a Certainty Will Search and locating their Will, the Deputy was able to fulfil their duties of acting in P’s best interest and ensure that her last wishes were adhered to so that she could pass away in accordance to how she wanted.

If you are a Deputy or Attorney and require assistance with how best to proceed with your duties, or are looking for a professional Deputy or Attorney, you can contact Chantal on 01522 515011 or email her at chantal.ulhaq-weedon@wilkinchapman.co.uk

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