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Does GDPR give beneficiaries the right to be told they are named in a person's Will?

View profile for Rachelle Nuttall
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We have all been inundated with emails over the past few months with regard to the introduction of GDPR on 25th May 2018. This was introduced by the EU to improve the data rights of EU residents and to ensure that data protection law was equal amongst all member states. It looks to protect the data rights of individuals by imposing hefty penalties and fines on those who misuse a person’s data. 

GDPR has given cause for concern to many solicitors with regard to their clients’ Wills. Within a Will a person is able to leave specific gifts and legacies to named beneficiaries. In order to identify those beneficiaries when that person has passed away, when drafting the Will, a solicitor will normally include the beneficiaries name and address. A Will is a private and confidential document until a grant of probate is granted following a person’s death. 

The question therefore arose in anticipation of GDPR as to whether those beneficiaries named need to be served with a privacy notice to confirm that the firm is holding information about them and even more concerning that they should be told why this information is held, that they are a named beneficiary in a Will. 

The Information Commissioner’s Office has not offered formal guidance on this issue, however, following a question directly to the ICO website, they responded as follows:

‘A solicitor who stores a Will on behalf of a client does not have to contact beneficiaries when the Will is written, only when the testator has passed away and the estate administration is underway. At that point, the solicitor should send the beneficiary a GDPR compliant privacy policy to advise them how their data will be stored and processed.’ 

A person can therefore be assured that the contents of their Will can remain private and confidential until their passing. At Stephensons Solicitors LLP our clients’ privacy is very important and always has been even before GDPR was introduced. 

If you would like to discuss making a Will please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team on 01616 966 229.