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Taking Instructions from clients – the fundamentals

Will instructions

Written By Richard Mawer

When meeting with a client to discuss their estate planning requirements, it’s always useful to have a structure to the meeting and whilst the BTWC Instruction Form provides a solid format that you can follow, we thought it may be useful to provide a summary of the fundamentals. These principles
can be applied whether you are talking to the client in person or Zoom or telephone.

1) Complete a full fact find

Whether you are taking instructions from a client you already know or a completely new contact, it’s really important that you ask the right questions in order to provide the correct recommendations. The first thing you need to discuss is the schedule of assets as this provides specific information that will inform on aspects such as the clients IHT position, business interests, or property ownership. It also ensures clients fully understand the extent of their estate and what they are gifting, which will form part of your capacity assessment. Also, listen out for any indications of their family dynamics and relationships to beneficiaries which can often be extremely important information.

2) Review any previous Wills

It’s important to establish if the client has made a will previously. But why you may ask?
Well, if there are any significant deviations from previous Will making patterns we need to be certain that this isn’t due to any loss in client capacity or undue influence from other parties that could cause the Will to be challenged later.

3) Take instructions from the client only

Sounds obvious, but Will instructions must be taken from the client only and where possible, you should try to conduct all or most of the meeting with the client alone and with no-one else present. This is to remove issues of possible undue influence and to ensure you are satisfied that no one is exerting unnecessary pressure on the client to distribute their estate in a particular way. In some instances, the client may request that they have someone with
them during the meeting and even if that person says nothing throughout, it’s always advisable to ask them to leave at the end of the meeting to summarise the instructions to the client and ensure the wishes expressed are their own.
If taking instructions over the phone of via Zoom, it’s important to ask if anyone else is present with the client and make a note of the answer provided on the instruction form.

4) Confirm capacity

The most common grounds for a Will to be challenged is regarding the signing of the Will or that the client did not have sufficient mental capacity. Ensure you are satisfied that the client understands that they are making a Will, that they understand the nature of their assets and the people to whom they ought to give consideration. If you have any doubt, it’s important to request an independent mental capacity assessment is completed and we can support you in arranging this.

5) Vulnerable Clients

If you have clients who have additional needs, its important that you make reasonable adjustments for them and also make a note on the instruction form. If the clients have issues with hearing, sight, literacy or other challenges then do let us know as it may impact on how we draft the Will but it won’t necessarily exclude the client from being able to make a Will.

6) ID Verification

Do remember to obtain relevant ID from them such as a passport, photocard driving license and proof of address such as a utility bill dated within the last 3 months.

7) Take Meeting Notes

It’s really important to make notes regarding the client meeting and the BTWC instruction form provides you with some useful prompts such as recording the date, time and location of the meeting, was there anyone else present etc. In the event of a challenge to the Will, it’s these notes that may be called upon in the future so it’s useful to note down any pertinent information that may be called upon later.

Want to look to get started with Estate Planning? We support you and your clients every step of the way, get in touch with the team now. Call 01522 500823 or email enquiries@btwc.co.uk

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