If it’s Not Equal Shares for Beneficiaries, should you Request a Mental Capacity Test?

According to a report run by The Financial Times, the rise in asset prices coupled with an increase in cases of dementia are the reasons behind the uptick in inheritance disputes.


Naturally, high value estates are more likely to be disputed, especially when the wealth is unevenly distributed between beneficiaries. Plus, the stakes are higher now, there is more wealth being transferred than ever before. Inheritance tax is projected to generate £7.2 billion this tax year, more than double the amount a decade ago.


Legal experts have cautioned that perhaps opportunistic relatives or caregivers are taking advantage of vulnerable individuals. There are certainly many who believe that the COVID-19 pandemic made vulnerabilities a lot worse as the elderly had limited access to professional support on many levels.


Over the past seven years, Probate disputes in the High Court have indeed doubled. With a high number of legal fights over finances in the Court of Protection. Recent cases of particular interest have included an 85-year-old woman who was supposedly manipulated against her three sons in favour of her daughter – where the daughter would be left the house and the brothers nothing.


In a different case, one brother used a DIY Will template to create a new Will for his mother, claiming he was acting upon her instructions. The Will left the entire estate to him and excluded his two other siblings. The judgement highlighted that the mother did not understand the effect of the new Will and that the brother had contributed to her misunderstanding.


With cases like this on the rise, how can we protect the vulnerable against opportunists and how can we help protect the reputation of your firms?


Here are five ways in which Arken’s Will writing software for professionals can help:


  1. Carry out a mental capacity test – Digital mental capacity tests are available within Arken Professional. If you’re concerned about a client or if they are leaving their estate unequally between beneficiaries, it might benefit them to carry out a mental capacity test. The results from these tests can be used to help defend your firms’ good intentions should a claim arise.  
  2. Ask your client to create an Expression of Wishes document – This small but mighty document can be used by the client to explain why perhaps one beneficiary is inheriting significantly more than the other. You can draft one within Arken Professional quickly and easily, and you can include it as part of the Will pack. 
  3. Be confident in  your estate plans – using software to help you draft documentation and take instructions from clients leaves less room for error. As does using precedents and clauses that are reviewed by a third party legal advisory board.  
  4. Clearly communicate the implications of your clients Will with them – You can also use the software to generate clear and concise commentary that sits alongside the Will, helping the client to understand what is within it. It can be included within their Will pack.  
  5. Implement version controls and audit histories – Using software that clearly records audit histories, changes to your clients Will and how instructions were captured will help with information gathering many years in the future, should a claim arise.


For more information about how Arken Professional can help you protect your vulnerable clients and the reputation of your firm. Contact us using:


Email: Info@arkenlegal 

Website: www.arken.legal 

Telephone: 01732 867792