Do NOT Make A Will – Under No Circumstances Should You Sort Out Your Affairs In Advance Of Your Sudden Demise!
Why? Because at heart I’m both a litigator and a business woman, and if people stopped making wills, I’d get to do lots of lovely court proceedings and make lots of lovely money out of your estate. And why would you care? You’re not here any more and you can’t take it with you!
Of course, you might still want your family to inherit as much as possible. You might want your children to have the benefit of your hard work, and you might want your grandchildren (or future grandchildren) to have the benefit of a better education because you left them money in trust.
You might decide that there are charitable organisations that are more deserving than any law firm (perish the thought!) or that there are friends who you’d like to leave a gift to, even if it’s just something sentimental.
On the other hand you might follow the wonderful example of John and Ann Scarle who, perhaps, thought that their local solicitors were more in need than anyone else. They decided not to leave wills, and then, unfortunately, died at around the same time, leaving no indication as to who died first. As both John and Ann have children from previous marriages, each of the siblings either inherits everything (if their parent died last) or nothing (if their parent died first). As there is no clear evidence of what happened, the step siblings have issued court proceedings for a ruling from a court. At stake is a £300,000 estate, or at least it was before the legal fees, which means that whoever wins is unlikely to inherit even half of that. The losing party may not only get nothing from the inheritance but could also be facing a big legal bill if the costs are not to come out of the estate.
Common sense suggests that they should simply have agreed to split the estate between them – and it may be that this was suggested but that terms couldn’t be agreed.
On the other hand, common sense suggests that for a fraction of the costs, you could prepare a will, making it clear what happens to your assets, and what happens if your chosen beneficiaries predecease you and who you want to administer your assets. I can’t guarantee it will protect your estate from all possible claims, but it significantly reduces the risk.
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