Now that the new GDPR data protection laws have taken effect, do the beneficiaries named in your Will have any right to be told that they are included?
All businesses have been considering what personal data they hold in the run up to these laws taking effect. One question which has been considered by legal practitioners is whether, whilst their clients are still alive, there is now an obligation to inform beneficiaries named in these clients’ Wills that personal data is being held about them.
The GDPR gives data subjects the right to be provided with all information that a data controller holds about them, subject to certain exceptions. Data controllers are also obliged to issue privacy notices to individuals whose personal data they hold, and whom they have reason to think may have good reason to see or amend that data. This is the reason for the GDPR emails being sent out by many organisations.
Clearly, providing information to a beneficiary that they are included in a client’s Will whilst they are still alive would be completely contrary to the duty of confidentiality between lawyers and their clients unless there is express consent from the client to release this information. Often a client will not want the beneficiaries named in their Will to know that they have been included until after they have died.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has not yet dealt with this issue formally, but has replied to the question directly via their website.
Their answer is that where a practitioner stores a will on behalf of a client they do not have to contact beneficiaries when the will is written, but only when it comes into effect on the testator’s death and the estate begins to be administered. This is because this situation falls under Article 14(5)(d) of the GDPR, which states that the data controller need not comply with the request if the personal data concerned must remain confidential subject to an obligation of professional secrecy.
At Jordans Solicitors, we take the security and confidentiality of our client’s data extremely seriously. We will not release confidential information without our clients’ consent, or otherwise if required to do so by law.
Therefore the GDPR laws will not change our approach with regards to Wills, and we will not be informing any beneficiaries named in a Will of their bequest whilst our client is still alive, unless they expressly instruct us to do so.
We are pleased to assist you, both in relation to planning your Will, or dealing with probate issues after death. We are on hand to help with any queries you may have in regards to Wills and Probate issues. Our wills and probate solicitors are based in Wakefield, Dewsbury, and Horsforth. Feel free to call us on 0330 300 1103 or request a call back by clicking here.