Money Talk: ‘Is it wrong to ask my parents what’s in their will?’

Talking about money

As part of our Money Talk series, we asked if you could ask someone to tell you what’s in their will before they die – or if it should be kept a secret. Let us know your views and how you handle your money in the comments section below

Close-up of hand of senior woman signing document
The only way someone can give their will is if they agree

If there’s one thing Britons are still bad at talking about, it’s death – especially wills.

In fact, previous research by insurer Royal London found that 54% of adults have no willpower.

While some people happily reveal what’s in their will, much of this is kept secret until after death.

This could lead to debates and even extreme cases last week when Ashley Sumner jailed for three years for manslaughter after killing his grandfather, John Bathers, successively according to his will.

A Mirror Money reader emailed to ask: “I’ve struggled with a bunch of low-paying jobs. My parents are well off but never gave me or my sister any help. any financial support when we grow up I believe we should earn our own way in life.

“They’ve always been a couple and I appreciate how they’ve worked so hard and made a life for themselves.

“But knowing if I will have any payments due when they die will greatly help in planning my financial future. Am I allowed to ask them about this, or do I have to wait?”

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below

Wills are legally binding and can almost never be changed


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You can’t do it for them – but they can agree

In short, the answer is that you can’t force anyone to reveal their will – but they can choose to show you the content before they pass away.

Amish Patel, an associate at the law firm Royds Withy King, said: “A will is a private document and an adult child therefore does not have any right to view a parent’s will when the parent is a parent. that’s still alive.

“The will becomes a public document, downloadable by anyone, once it is accepted for probate after death.”

The only way to know what’s in the will is if the testator chooses to tell you.

Adam Scott, partner at law firm Trethowans, said: “However, there’s nothing stopping someone from talking to their children about their will, if they want to.

Patel also said no one can force parents to change their will.

In England and Wales, the law states that anyone can leave their property to whomever they want when they die – even if that means leaving nothing to a spouse or child. their family.

But there are exceptions

The only exception is if they do not have the appropriate capacity to make that decision, such as if the testator becomes mentally ill with age.

Patel added: “Disappointed beneficiaries can claim an estate after death, and have recently had a claim even before death,” although there are strict criteria for being able to. claim. “

One way you can find out the contents of a will while someone is still alive is through a system called ‘permanent power of attorney’.

This is a confusing phrase, but it implies something quite sensible – an agreement, before death, between the testator and their ‘attorney’, usually their children.

The testator is officially called the testator if he is male and the testator if he is female. may agree that their attorney can request a copy of the will before they die.

“Testers/testatrix often do this to make sure their attorneys can continue to plan succession,” says Patel.

“Even if attorneys have access to a copy of a will, they cannot change or update a will. Only the Court of Defense makes new wills after someone becomes incapacitated.”

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