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To think that wills should be public documents

(180 Posts)
GnomeDePlume Mon 15-Apr-19 05:33:03

before the testator dies.

Not a TAAT but so many times in RL and on MN I have heard about wills which do the opposite of what was intended or which make assumptions about who should/should not benefit from an estate.

If the will was public then any potentially interested person could read the will. If they dont agree with it then they can raise it with the testator.

As wills are often made many years before the testator dies clauses which seemed perfectly fair at the time can become out of date (eg leaving an estate to named grandchildren can seem like a nice thing until a late arriving grandchild is born and not being named is effectively disinherited).

The testator has to own the decisions they have made rather than leave the executor to deal with everything whe there is nothing they can do to change things.

Tavannach Mon 15-Apr-19 05:39:08

I don't really think it's up to the assumed beneficiaries to argue their case. The estate belongs to the testator and is theirs dispose of as they wish. If an unborn grandchild is excluded their parents can decide to match the share given to older grandchildren.

Foxmuffin Mon 15-Apr-19 05:42:33

No. That’s not reasonable. Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed. You’d lead to people getting intimidated and manipulated.

GnomeDePlume Mon 15-Apr-19 05:47:55

Tavannach I dont think that parents can make that decision if the terms of the will are legal (if unintentially unfair).

We had the potential for this situation to arise. DH's GF wanted to leave part of his estate to his GC and name them in his will. Fortunately FiL saw the problem that could arise from later GCs arriving on the scene so persuaded GF to simply leave that portion of the estate to all his GCs (unnamed).

By the time GF's estate was wound up a whole family's worth of GCs had arrived and grown to adulthood

Itshightime Mon 15-Apr-19 05:49:52

That’s a horrendous idea

Tavannach Mon 15-Apr-19 05:50:43

I meant match it out of the share that the parents would presumably inherit.

iano Mon 15-Apr-19 05:56:34

Yabu- that'll just lead to lots of cases surrounding undue influence.

KooMoo Mon 15-Apr-19 06:11:42

Grabby & greedy imo. Talk about being entitled. Gheesh!

Luglio Mon 15-Apr-19 06:19:09

Worst idea ever. Can you imagine the bullying and abuse of older people that this would cause? It's bad enough anyway when the vultures start circling...

HBStowe Mon 15-Apr-19 06:25:21

This is a really bad idea.

What would be to stop potential benefactors from intimidating or manipulating the testator into making changes in their favour? And if they were public, any old criminal could work out who had a decent amount of stuff worth nicking. Even if you just limited ‘public’ to ‘potential beneficiaries’ that’s still a potentially huge group of people, many of whom might not have the testator’s best interests at heart.

There is no requirement for wills to be fair. Nobody is entitled to an inheritance. I appreciate that sometimes people die with old or out of date wills, and the the consequences of this might not be what they would have wanted, but that’s still the choice they made.

If people want to chat to their relatives and say ‘do you have your will in order, are you happy that you’ve given enough information for your wishes to be respected’ that’s one thing. You can do that now. But introducing some kind of foul, grabby circus where potential beneficiaries hound a possibly old, infirm of vulnerable person to make changes in their favour is clearly a horrible idea.

MsMarvellous Mon 15-Apr-19 06:28:08

No I think YABU. I think there should probably scope for dragging the wording and storing of wills kicking and screaming into the 21st century but not to make them public before someone is deceased.

GnomeDePlume Mon 15-Apr-19 06:30:03

But how much bullying/manipulation goes on where people are persuaded to take on care or other responsibilities (sometimes at cost to themselves) on the promise that they will be 'looked after when I'm gone' only to find that no such provision has been made?

Wills are made at a moment in time. Many of the detailed provisions reflect the situation at the time. Problems come when the will then sits around sometimes for decades. By the time it comes into force many of those provisions which may have been sensible or fair at the time of writing are now just a problem which the exectors are left to unpick.

Bibijayne Mon 15-Apr-19 06:30:45

Awful idea YABU.

Bibijayne Mon 15-Apr-19 06:32:24


Simple. Do not take on responsibilities on the promise of a future financial reward. If you are only happy/ able to do something because of a financial promise, get it in writing (so a charge for X value is put against the estate) or insist on being paid at the time.

KooMoo Mon 15-Apr-19 06:36:24

You’ve asked for opinion OP. It’s an overwhelming yabu.

But still you’re labouring the point.

Gosh if I was your relative and was aware of your massively ugly entitledness I’d be leaving the sodding lot to the cats home or such like.

GnomeDePlume Mon 15-Apr-19 06:36:45

The bullying and manipulation of testators goes on anyway. At least if the will was public then the results of that bullying and manipulation would be public.

Singlebutmarried Mon 15-Apr-19 06:38:35

I’ve had this discussion with friends lately as we’ve had a family situation and I was a bit gobsmacked at the assumption of some cousins (GC to the recently deceased) that there would be something for them.

The decease’s husband of 70 years is still alive and so all estate is passed to him (obviously).

Once he passed it will be equally split between the DC. Not the GC or the GGC or the GGGC.

So it’s up to the DC if they want to give to the GC.

KooMoo Mon 15-Apr-19 06:39:18

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

HBStowe Mon 15-Apr-19 06:39:39

But how much bullying/manipulation goes on where people are persuaded to take on care or other responsibilities (sometimes at cost to themselves) on the promise that they will be 'looked after when I'm gone' only to find that no such provision has been made?

If the only reason you are providing care to a family member is financial reward, you need to seek a contractual basis for that which is not a will. There are no guarantees with wills, which means if you see offering care and assistance as a transaction, you need a properly enforceable contract.

I am also less concerned about the possibility of fit, healthy, younger, care-giving adults being manipulated than elderly people needing care and approaching death. Out of those two groups, who do you think is more likely to be vulnerable and in need of safeguards?

It’s perfectly possible to write a will which stands the test of time. If a testator decides not to do that, it’s simply their decision. It doesn’t have to be fair or reasonable. Testamentary freedom is a right granted to everyone.

MaybeitsMaybelline Mon 15-Apr-19 06:40:14

No I don’t agree, and it would be very open to minipulation
of the vulnerable.

If you are close enough to the willholder wouldn’t you know what was in it anyway? I don’t what my parents and in laws say.

Singlebutmarried Mon 15-Apr-19 06:40:44

Thing is OP. Even though this will is ‘private’ There’s been such shit stirring from two GC in particular my GF has felt he (after losing his wife) has to explain.

He shouldn’t need that crap, because bullying and manipulating at man in his 90s is so tasteful.

Flobochin Mon 15-Apr-19 06:41:37

Leaving all the legalities aside, making a Will public leads people open to theft. Anyone can read that so and so has valuable items, jewellery, art, etc in the home.

We have itemised art and jewellery in our Wills, I wouldn't want anyone knowing what we have!

AuntieCJ Mon 15-Apr-19 06:42:51

Dreadful idea.

longwayoff Mon 15-Apr-19 06:43:19

Nooooooo, for too many reasons to list. How about having your salary details, and how you spend it, made public then family and any other dependents can assess whether it's been fairly distributed.

bengalcat Mon 15-Apr-19 06:45:28

No they shouldn’t be public . It’s up to the testator to review and update their will if they wish every few years especially if they have a change of circumstances .

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