John and Jackie were married for many years and had one son James. David and Dawn were married for many years and had three sons being Dean, Donald and Duncan. Jackie and David died in their sixties. A few years later John and Dawn met at the local bowls club. Their friendship turned to companionship and they married.
John and Dawn agreed to keep their finances separate but things were more complicated regarding their houses. They agreed that John would sell his house and give half of the proceeds to James and half of the proceeds to be shared between Dean, Donald and Duncan. This he did. John then moved into Dawn’s house. They wrote their own Wills which simply stated that on the first death the house would go to the surviving spouse and all the cash would go to that person’s child or children. On second death the house was to be sold and half the proceeds were to go to John and half were to be shared between Dean, Donald and Duncan. The cash of the second to die was to go to that person’s child or children.
John and Dawn lived together happily for a number of years. John died first. His share of the house went to Dawn. His cash went to James. So far their plan was working as they had agreed. Approximately a year after John died Dawn became quite frail and she had to move into a care home. Dawn sold her house to pay the care fees. No one thought about the Will that Dawn had written all those years earlier until she died some three months after moving into the care home.
Let us remind ourselves what Dawn had written in her Will. All of her cash was to go to Dean, Donald and Duncan in equal shares. The house was to be sold and half of the proceeds were to go to James and half of the proceeds were to be shared equally between Dean, Donald and Duncan. However, at the moment of Dawn’s death she did not own a house and therefore the gift failed. James received no share. The result was not what John and Dawn had intended.
If John and Dawn had gone to a professional practitioner and had kept their affairs under review the result would have been very different.
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