We all know that having a will in place is a no brainer but as it transpires, half of the adults in the UK don’t get round to making one. A story reported in the FT recently definitely highlights the mess you can get into if you die intestate.
Perhaps we need such shocking news stories as a ‘conversation starter’ to prompt thinking about the division of our assets after our death: whether we have children, or not.
A shocking case was reported in the FT of two step-sisters who were arguing over which of them should inherit their late parents’ house. The elderly couple had been found dead in their home, and it was not possible to determine who had died first.
The situation was complicated because the father had not made a will, and his younger wife had made no provision in her will for her step daughter. If the wife was deemed to have died first her share in the home would pass to her husband. Under the intestacy rules his estate would pass only to his daughter and not to his wife’s daughter.
If the husband died first, the wife would inherit the property and it then would pass only to her own daughter under her will.
The Court decided that the Law of Property Act 1925 should apply, which determines that the elder of the two is deemed to have died first. The wife’s daughter thus inherited the entire property to the exclusion of her step-sister.
This gordian knot would have been easier to unwind if both individuals had made wills with express provision for both daughters.
You can put your own will together, or even buy a DIY will from amazon; and this might be ok if your will is simple. But generally it is recommended to instruct a solicitor to do this.
I was looking at an interesting article on how to get a solicitor-written wills in return for a small charity donation, which may be of interest to you: