This applies in cases where an application for a statutory will has been made—usually where the next of kin needs to be traced in intestacy cases when a client has lost the capacity to make a will. The next of kin must be found before the statutory will can be submitted to the Court of Protection.
Often, time is of the essence in such cases and we’re happy to meet any deadlines involved. We work with court-appointed deputies or those in other roles and we can provide the required results quickly and cost-effectively.
Lack of capacity
Statutory wills can also be used in cases where previous wills are out of date but can’t be changed because of a lack of capacity. This might be the case where those named in the wills pre-deceased the testator. A statutory will often works in the best interests of the person involved as it stops his or her estate being distributed according to the rules of intestacy.
Most statutory will cases apply to older people who have lost capacity through illness or a condition such as Alzheimer’s. But this isn’t always the case. Recently, we drew up a family tree for a twenty-two-year-old man. Our client asked us to confirm his next of kin, and we were able to do so, documenting his sister, both parents and even both of his grandmothers as they were still alive.
In another case, a solicitor firm we work with asked us to confirm the paternal side of their client’s family which was thought to be straightforward. There was a strict court deadline for the research, and we were able to confirm and contact some of the paternal relatives before this date.
We asked for the deadline to be extended and have since found family members in England, Scotland, Australia and the US, and the research continues. Although it isn’t strictly relevant to the case, we have also identified half-blood cousins, thanks to the remarriage of the client’s grandmother.
We welcome work in this area, as it provides reassurance to all those concerned—the professionals, the family and often the testator.
As the population’s age increases, the numbers of those suffering from dementia and other age-related illnesses will see applications for statutory wills increase. Our experience and expertise in this area can help.
Danny Curran is the founder and managing director of Finders International.