Can you see someone's will before they die?

Rebecca Parr

Under English law, a person is entitled to keep their will private and confidential and only after they die will family members and others be allowed to see it.

But what happens if the person making the will (also known as the "testator") has lost capacity since making their will, as a result of an accident or an illness such as dementia? In those circumstances, can the person appointed to look after their affairs ask to see their will before they have died?

In short, the answer is yes, and in fact there could be very good reasons for doing so. 

Under a Lasting Power of Attorney ("LPA"), an appointed attorney or deputy is someone who has been appointed to act on behalf of a person who lacks mental capacity (the "donor") to deal with their financial and property affairs.

The attorney or deputy owes various duties to the donor, which includes a duty to try and carry out the donor's succession plans (as they would have put in their will) as far as possible, and to act in their best interests.

The only way the attorney or deputy can do this, is by knowing the contents of the donor's will. The attorney or deputy would be able to make any appropriate investment decisions on behalf of the donor, or apply to the Court for specific orders relating to property or legacies.

If they wish to do so, a donor can say in his or her LPA that they do not want their will to be disclosed prior to death.

At Samuels Solicitors, we are experts in assisting client in preparing their wills, setting up powers of attorney and dealing with their financial affairs.

If you would like more information about this article, or wish to discuss your own circumstances then contact our private client team who would be happy to assist you.