Duty of Care – Taking Will instructions

By April 3, 2017Taking instructions

What considerations are there when taking will instructions? As part of our process, we will usually issue drafts to you via e-mail and ask that you respond to us within 10 working days. As soon as you have accepted the instructions from your clients you then have a duty of care to keep time delays to a minimum to produce the final document to them.

The case White v Jones [1995] highlights this problem in relation to Wills. As a brief overview; the client, Mr White contacted his solicitor, Mr Jones, in relation to changing his Will.  His current Will had excluded his daughters. Mr White later reconciled his differences with his daughters hence wishing to change his Will to now make provision for them. Mr Jones, took Mr White’s instructions and more than 40 days later still without the Will being produced, Mr White died. The daughters took legal action against Mr Jones on the grounds of causing loss to a disappointed beneficiary (the current Will excluding them remained in place). Mr Jones was found negligent and held liable because of the loss, with a breach of the duty of care due to the time from the instructions being taken and no further progress until Mr White’s death.

Please take this as reminder that time is an important factor in relation to Wills, these are your clients last wishes and we ask that you cooperate with us to approve drafts as quickly as possible. If there are any problems or reasons why cases may be delayed, please let us know. In the case where the clients very elderly or ill, immediate action needs to be taken.

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