“Does dementia stop me from making a Will?” It’s a question we often get asked, along with dozens of similar queries on behalf of more…
Our experienced team of Will, Trust + Probate solicitors have helped many clients plan for the future by writing Wills and setting up trusts. Below are some recent case studies from our clients.
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Writing a Will for a terminally ill client
Mrs G was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a short time to live. She hadn’t organised her Will, always ‘putting it off’ for another day so, due to the nature of her condition, we visited her in her home the same day.
The draft Will was prepared the same day and sent to the client for approval. An appointment was booked for the following week, however Mrs G’s condition deteriorated so rapidly that we rearranged the appointment for the following day.
This ensured that the Will was signed and the client could relax, knowing that her affairs would be dealt with after she passed away.
Inheritance tax planning through trusts
Mr S was a widower with two adult children and three minor grandchildren. His estate was worth £1.5m and he wanted to leave £900,000 between his grandchildren when they reached 21.
If a single trust had been created, the value of the trusts would exceed the IHT nil rate band (£325,000) and his grandchildren would have suffered 10 yearly charges to IHT and exit charges.
Instead Mr S created 3 trusts during his lifetime, each created on a different day and with payment of £10 to each trust. He also left £300,000 to each trust in his will so that in the event of his death, the grandchildren’s trusts each benefited from a full IHT nil rate band and were not subject to charges.
Unmarried partner left out of Will
Our client, Ms W, had lived with her partner for over twenty years before he died. Unfortunately, the two never married and he passed away leaving a Will that had been written before their relationship had begun.
As a result, Ms W was not named as a beneficiary in the Will and would have received nothing from it. Worse still, she would have been unable to continue living in the house that they had shared, as it was registered in her partner’s name only.
However, we were able to advise her to pursue a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, as someone who had lived with the deceased person as his spouse and, furthermore, could reasonably claim to have been dependent on them.
Through subsequent negotiation with the named beneficiaries of the Will, we were able to ensure Ms W’s right to stay in her home, as well as securing her a share of her partner’s estate. We achieved this via the mediation process, thereby avoiding court, which resulted in less stress and expense for all concerned.
Protecting an estate left without a Will
We acted for a group of siblings whose last remaining parent had died intestate. Their sister had volunteered herself to administer the estate on everyone else’s behalf, however it became apparent that she was not sticking to agreed actions.
The sister was failing to keep her siblings informed, as well as distributing money and other assets against the rules of intestacy (the regulations that govern the management of estates without Wills).
We advised the other siblings about the intestacy rules and other legal avenues, such as those within the non-contentious probate rules. We then acted to prevent their sister from dispersing or spending any more of the estate’s assets.
Finally, we enforced the appointment of an independent estate administrator to recover the assets that our clients’ sister had already dispersed, and to independently manage the legal distribution of the estate.
Contesting changes to a Will made after the deceased’s death
We represented Mr R, a client whose parents made Wills together while they were both alive. When Mr R’s father died, our client’s mother inherited all of her husband’s estate. She then changed her Will to remove our client as a named beneficiary.
Had the new Will been enforced, Mr R would have received nothing when his mother died. However, we were able to advise him that, as an adult child of the deceased (his mother), he could pursue a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Acting on Mr R’s behalf, we were able to secure a substantial interest in the estate for him, despite strong opposition from his siblings and the existence of the new Will written by his mother. We did this via mediation rather than going to court, which was both less expensive and less distressing for the parties involved.