As a key person involved in Will making, what are the risks you have to face when things go wrong in court? What are the possible risk management strategies that you do to protect yourself? How about your client’s assets? How would you advise him or her when it comes to estate planning and the consequences of the will he or she has made? Are you allowed to favour one beneficiary over the other? Below we’ll discuss the risks involved when you decide to take part in estate planning and will making.
How To Manage Risks When You Take Part in Estate Planning
The Professional Requirements
When you get involved in Will making, there are rules that you need to abide by. Being aware of these rules makes it easier for you to do risk safety. As a solicitor, you carry serious professional responsibilities which you must observe strictly and adequately.
More Than Just Form Filling
The first rule of the thumb that we are sure most solicitors are aware of but don’t follow is:
A solicitor’s job is more than just a routine exercise in form filling. Your job as a solicitor is to have a thorough discussion with your client, the testator, about the problems that can pop-up. Discuss the legal issues and complications that can happen because of the provisions they have written on their will, during the will making process. Being able to accurately and painstakingly document these discussions will, in turn, protect you from any untoward event in the future.
Give Proper Explanation
Once you have finished discussing with the testator about the possible conflicts and legal issues that can happen, your next move is to make the testator understand. By this we mean confirm, read allowed and make sure that the contents of the will made are according to what the testator desires. Estate planning and writing a will is no easy business, assets are at stake here, and one wrong move could lead to you losing credibility. You must make sure that the will written is drafted accurately and the management of risks process well thought of.
Don’t Be Biased
Another major rule to observe as a solicitor is that you must not be biased in your advice to your client. If there is a potential conflict of interest taking place, you must, at all cost steer away from this. Seek to avoid conscientiously any situation where you can be put at risk. If you feel in any way that you can’t in any way advise the testator independently then as a professional you must withdraw yourself. Do not get involved in the estate planning and the will making. Don’t think of the short-term benefits that one client can bring but focus on the long-term effects. You must be inconspicuous in practising managing risks. Should the court find that you are in any way untrue to your profession and put emotions over rationality, you will end up losing your license.
Should you in any way be involved in any preexisting relationship or have past dealings with a beneficiary or a sole beneficiary under a will, you must apply restraint and care. This is especially true when the will making process is rushed and done urgently. Should any unusual circumstances happen and that beneficiary you know is involved you have to prepare yourself for scrutiny. Note that since you are involved, you must be ready to face microscopical scrutinisation and your own motives will be called into question. Remember that will writing in Singapore is monitored and our courts are not under the influence of corrupt officials and servants of justice.
Conduct yourself with high regards for your profession and follow utmost care in managing risk and you’ll be sure to keep yourself and your name clean from scandals. Remember to be cautious in dealing with clients whose beneficiaries you are acquainted with. And to explain in full detail any legal consequences of that he or she can face when making provisions in the will. Remembering that your job is to give expert advice to clients who badly need it.