Posted on 18.5.16
Although airline travel is considered far safer than taking a journey by car, more and more people are making wills before flying abroad on holiday.
Law firm Gorvins Solicitors have found an increasing number of clients have cited making a plane journey as a trigger for making a will.
Clients have even made provision for dying on the flight or abroad, including scattering ashes on a hill with a view of Palma cathedral or in the holiday town where they have had many happy memories.
It is a trend says, top Will and Probate solicitor, Tasoula Addison, which suggests holiday makers are even making a Will only to cover what happens if they died on holiday.
“This is a trend which we have seen increase dramatically over recent years. Many people I see say that they have been meaning to make a will for years but have never quite got round to it, and having a foreign holiday booked is a common reason given for why they have finally decided to go ahead.
“There also seems to be a sense of urgency about it – as if there is a genuine fear they won’t be coming home. Clients often leave it until a couple of weeks before going away to come in for an initial meeting, and then need the will turning around very quickly to get it completed.”
She added that some cite a fear of flying as their reason for making the will – whilst others admit there is something illogical in their reasoning, but still want to make provision for their loved ones in the event of something happening.
The current climate of fear and terrorist attacks – although none affecting airliners in recent years – also seems to be triggering the trend
In response to this, Tasoula has now drawn up holiday wills guidelines for anyone who feels the need to plan for the fact they may not get off the plane.
This includes advice about notifying others about where the will is stored, should anyone need to find it, and specific funeral wishes – including those relating to the fact they have died abroad or in a plane crash!
The Guidelines for a ‘Holiday Will’
1. Plan ahead – a Will takes time to draw up properly so ideally you need to see a solicitor a couple of months before, not weeks or days.
2. Ensure the Will is executed before going away (i.e. signed and witnessed) – if it is not then it has no effect, even if you have given your instructions to the solicitor.
3. Tell your executors where your will is kept- both where your copy is, and which solicitors have the original.
4. If you do have any specific funeral wishes, make sure your executors know what these are. You can put them in your Will, but often a funeral will be arranged by your family before they have even looked at the Will, so it is best if you have also made them aware of your wishes verbally.
5. Make sure you have nominated beneficiaries for any pensions or life assurance- these nominations are usually made directly with the relevant provider, and are separate to the wishes set out in your Will. Payments of this kind can be very useful for your family as they are often made relatively quickly.
6. Ensure your financial records are in good order – have a filing system. Some people also keep a spread sheet setting out all their current assets. This makes things easier to locate if the worst does happen.
7. Ideally, you should also put Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, to cover the situation where you are still alive but are unable to deal with your own finances (e.g. being in a coma). Your Will does not give your executors any powers whilst you are still alive, so powers of attorney are required to cover this situation.
8. Have travel insurance! The cost of repatriating a body can be massive, and without travel insurance your family could be left with a huge bill.
Statistics show that road traffic fatalities are still far less that those involving flight with the chances of being killed in an airplane crash set at 1 in 11 million. The odds for a car crash are slashed to 1 in 5000.
What’s more, over the past 65 years, the aviation accident rate has been declining rapidly, despite more and more people taking to the skies every year. The current crash rate is 2.1 for every million planes that takes the skies – with the odds even lower on large commercial aircraft.
However it seems that major airline incidents such as the disappearance of a Malaysian Airliner over the Indian Ocean may make passengers feel they are taking a risk when they get on a plane – causing the rush in demands for pre-holiday wills. The catastrophic nature of airline crashes – where there is often little chance of survival – also seems to be a catalyst.
Records have shown 2014 was the worst for aviation fatalities this decade and that was before the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines planes in the Indian Ocean.
The all-time deadliest year for aviation was 1972 when a staggering 2,429 people were killed in a total of 55 plane crashes – including the crash of Aeroflot Flight 217, which killed 174 people in Russia, and Convair 990 Coronado, which claimed 155 lives in Spain.
Wills made for those about to take a plane journey are not different to any other kind of will, adds Tasoula.
“The only difference might be if they are going away to a holiday home that they own themselves in another country – I would then advise them to take advice from a lawyer in that country regarding a Will to cover the holiday home.
“But it really is vital that everyone should make a Will – especially if going away as a couple and leaving your children at home with friends or family. What happens to your children if you and your partner are in an accident? You need to have made provision for them, both financially and in terms of naming guardians to look after them in your absence. Even if you are taking your children with you, what happens if there is a family wipe-out? Who would you want to inherit if you, your partner, and your children were no longer around? Not having a Will in those circumstances can lead to unintended consequences, such as your entire estate going to your spouse/civil partner’s parents.
“Of course, going on holiday or making a trip abroad should be a happy and exciting experience. But equally it is important to plan ahead.”