The importance of making a will
Having a will is the only way an individual can be absolutely certain that their estate and affairs will be taken care of as they wish. Making a will is especially vital if someone will be leaving behind property and valuable possessions. This has become more of a complicated matter due to contemporary families becoming increasingly divided and mixed. Therefore, a will needs to be put into place to ensure those that an individual wishes to benefit do and not someone else – a previous spouse, for example.
Without a will, the estate is left in intestacy and there is no way of ensuring that loved ones will be looked after and disputes will not arise concerning the execution of the estate. Different arrangements may be made, that may not have been what the individual wanted or believed would happen, due to legalities that have to be followed. These types of situations can be very stressful and frustrating for family members. The importance of these points will be highlighted in this brief case study:
The case involved the death of a young woman, with no will, who left behind 4 children and quite a complicated family background. The individual had no financial support from or contact with any of the 3 fathers. She believed that the estate would be fairly split between her children when they reached 18 – due to the rules of intestacy. However, the problems in this matter were not over who benefitted from the estate, but rather who would manage the estate and be in control of the money until the children reached 18.
The eldest son was 18 so was able to apply to the Court to be appointed to manage the estate. However, due to there being minors who also benefitted under the estate, he needed to have another person to act with him. After suggesting his uncle, it was understood that only the fathers of the children had priority in this decision, as they were the people with parental responsibility for the beneficiaries. In this situation, the son and uncle were not able to resist one of the fathers acting in the estate as well as the costs of taking action to prevent this were too high and disproportionate to the value of the estate. No further action could be made and it therefore had to be agreed to the father acting in the estate as well.
This unfortunate position is an example of the possible situation family members can end up in, that could have been avoided if a will had been considered appointing the deceased’s choice of executors to carry out their wishes under the will.
If you would like any more information and advice or would like to understand your options please contact our will solicitors on 01283 526200.