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There are many positives to take from the fact that we are living longer than ever before, as is indicative of a better and healthier standard of living and means we get to spend more time with our loved ones. There are, however, negative consequences such as the increased likelihood of developing a degenerative disease and the fact that, as a country, we sometimes struggle to cope with the increased demand for elderly care.
As society has changed there have been a number of issues to be addressed and indeed many of them have been, whether this means finding better treatment for illnesses or having measures in place such as Lasting Powers of Attorney, in order that someone can be appointed to look after the health or financial decisions of a person who can no longer do so for themselves.
It is often the case that issues that ought to be addressed, only when come to public attention, when significant damage has been done and when this happens, the law can be somewhat delayed in righting such wrongs.
One such problem may well be the proclivity of some people to take advantage of the older members of society. The lengths some people are willing to go to exploit others to line their own pockets are surprising to say the least and one increasingly common means of doing so is to marry a vulnerable, elderly person with the sole purpose of inheriting their estate.
Ordinarily when a couple marry, any Wills they have previously prepared are revoked and if they were to die without preparing a new Will, they would die intestate, seeing all or at least a very significant portion of their Estate, passing to their new spouse.
This on the face of it should not create too many problems, as if the happy couple are not satisfied with this situation, they can simply prepare new Wills.
This becomes a problem, however, when a person no longer has the testamentary capacity to prepare a new Will.
You could be forgiven for thinking that, if there is a certain standard of mental capacity required to prepare a Will, there should surely be a similar standard of mental capacity required to enter in to a marriage, and you would be right. The problem lies in the fact that the two standards are not the same and it is becoming increasingly common for some unscrupulous individuals to exploit this loophole created by the disparity between the standards of mental capacity, in order to inherit the estates of vulnerable people.
This article in The Times has shed some light on this rather sinister practice and suggests that perhaps a change in the law is order.
If you have any concerns in relation to vulnerable people or if you have any questions relating to Wills contact our expert Private Client Team on 0800 988 3650, email email@example.com or text LAW to 67777.