Consequences of impaired memory/dementia/Alzheimer’s in a death certificate

31 July 2020

older man

This blog is about a look back period operated by the Probate Office on an issue, which you may have come across before. If it is the case that Alzheimer’s, dementia or cognitive decline is mentioned on a death certificate, this could be a factor behind the Probate office raising queries with your application. To deal with the query the Seat office will require an affidavit of mental capacity from the testator’s treating doctor. This is understandable, but what is concerning is the look back period of the probate office. I queried the matter with the seat office during the week. The response was that the rule of thumb is not to look back greater than 10 years (ie between date of will and date of death) and in other cases (Ie between 10 years and date of death) to treat each matter on a case by case basis.

This is really quite challenging for us. Who is to say that a healthy 65 year old will not develop a cognitive issue and pass away over the next 10 years? That is a distinct possibility. Should one be obtaining a medical certificate in all cases of clients at, perhaps, 65 onwards, regardless of the health of a client at the time of making a will? Is this excessive? Obviously this is something to watch out for. I’d love to hear your views.