One of our Consultants has asked us to share this true story. The names of those involved have been changed to protect identities.
“I am an estate planning practitioner. It is my job to assess an individual’s personal circumstances and advise them on how best to go about putting their affairs in order so that things go as smoothly as possible after they die.
From time to time I am asked for advice by friends and family. On one such occasion I was asked by my mother-in-law to give some advice to Mandy, the daughter of my mother-in-law’s neighbour.
Mandy was 20 at the time and she lived with her 18 year-old brother, Scott, in the family home, along with their mother, who had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Mandy and Scott had an older sister, Lorraine, who lived in a council flat with her partner.
Mandy’s mother had no Will and she (Mandy) was becoming increasingly concerned that this would cause problems if her mother died before making one. I advised her that she should encourage her mother to write a Will while she was still well enough to do so. I also advised that it was imperative that any such Will granted Mandy and Scott a right to live in the family home, after their mother’s death, for such a period of time as to allow them to make plans for the future before having to sell the property and split the proceeds of sale between them and Lorraine.
Try as she might, Mandy could not persuade her mother to address the fact that she had no Will. It appeared that she was in denial over her condition and repeatedly told Mandy and Scott that she would get round to writing a Will when it became necessary to do so. Unfortunately her condition deteriorated rapidly and she died intestate.
Less than a fortnight after their mother’s death, Mandy and Scott received a letter from a firm of solicitors advising them that their sister Lorraine had appointed them to administer the estate of their late mother and that the property would have to be sold. Their mother’s funeral hadn’t even taken place yet Mandy and Scott were already facing up to the prospect of being turfed out of their home before they had even had an opportunity to grieve. Lorraine wanted her share of her late mother’s estate and had no desire to wait for it any longer than she felt she needed to.
It has been several months since I last heard from Mandy. When we last spoke she advised me that the relationship between her and Scott and their sister was at an all-time low and legal action was still ongoing to force Mandy and Scott to leave their home so that it could be sold. Mandy was receiving counselling and was signed off from work indefinitely with stress. Scott’s studies were affected badly and he had all but dropped out of 6th form college.
For the cost of a professionally created and suitably worded Will, this family could have been spared all of the upset, stress and worry that an intestacy caused. Regrettably it is a situation we see regularly. Don’t leave a mess like this behind. Act now, while you are still able.”
If you would like to meet with one of our Consultants to discuss any of the issues raised here or any other Estate Planning topic please telephone 01732 868190 or click here.