It has been one of soap’s most moving and divisive storylines, but Coronation Street character Hayley Cropper’s battle with cancer ends tonight with her suicide.
In light of Hayley’s story, the Law Society urges people facing the difficult prospect of a terminal illness to ensure they leave a will before they die.
Hayley, who had various assets including savings, a share in Roy’s Rolls Café and the flat above, leaves behind her husband Roy.
In Hayley’s case, if she died without making a will, Roy would inherit an outright legacy of £250,000 and all of Hayley’s personal possessions. Given property prices in the fictional northern town of Weatherfield it is likely that Hayley’s assets would not exceed this amount. If, however, the value of her estate exceeded £250,000, legislation means that Roy would also be entitled to a life interest (the income) in half of the remaining estate.
The other half of her remaining estate would pass automatically to her (until recently) estranged and slightly shady son, Alan. It is unlikely that Hayley would have wanted this to happen.
If Hayley had spoken to a solicitor when she was aware of her illness, she could have received advice on how to ensure Roy was looked after financially. She would have considered others that she may have wished to leave small gifts to such as Fiz, Carla or a charity. A solicitor would also have taken steps to ensure that Hayley’s wishes regarding her son were noted in detail.
Further advice on matters to assist Hayley and Roy as her illness progressed such as Powers of Attorney would also have been discussed.
Law Society president Nicholas Fluck said: “In Hayley’s case, she organised her own palliative care, her death and her funeral – even down to what her husband Roy should wear. Hopefully she also ensured her wishes after death were respected by making a will.
“If Hayley lived in Albert Square rather than Weatherfield, she could have assets worth well over £250,000, which means making your intentions clear is more important than ever given rising property values.
“Thousands of people die every year without making a will or without a properly drafted will. The consequences of this can be tragic. A grieving family dealing with a complicated estate or a contested inheritance is a situation no one wants to find themselves in.
“By talking to a solicitor, wishes can be expressed in a way that will not cause problems for family and friends after a person’s death.”
Many people who make their own wills, and sometimes those who are advised by unqualified will writers, do not make wills which maximise tax saving or planning in their estates, since this often still requires a considerable knowledge of law.
The Law Society Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS) has been established to reinforce set standards of practice and client care when providing will drafting, probate and estate administration services. At the heart of this and other Law Society accreditations is consumer reassurance, demonstrating a commitment to putting their needs first and delivering the highest levels of service.