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Where There’s a Will…

When dealing with a Probate, we often heave a sigh of relief when we see that the person created a Will.

Usually, the Will clearly sets out who the deceased wanted to have as their Executors (people responsible for dealing with their estate) and who they wanted as their beneficiaries

However, we’re coming across more estates where there is either an outdated will or a ‘Do It Yourself’ Will and there are issues with both.

Outdated wills

When you create a Will, you tend to do so based on your current circumstances which is good- we advise our clients to tell us what they would want to happen to their estate should they pass away the next day! But, it’s also important to consider the future. You might choose to leave everything to one person, but if that person predeceased you and your will doesn’t specify a substitute beneficiary then your estate will pass via the intestacy rules. This may mean it’s distributed to people you wouldn’t have chosen or it is given to the Government if you have no surviving relatives. It can be morbid to consider the ‘what if?’ dilemmas, but it will provide you with peace of mind knowing you have included a back up.

Another way a Will can be outdated is if you name a spouse who you then go on to divorce. Once a Decree Absolute is granted your spouse is treated as having pre-deceased you, so any reference to them in your Will is invalid. Similarly, if you create a Will and then enter marriage or a civil partnership this revokes any Wills previously made. As a rule of thumb, you should consider reviewing your Will after a life event and every 5 years.

DIY wills

Sometimes these estates are dealt with easily and without issue. However, we have encountered Wills where the wording has caused confusion and ambiguous interpretations. We have also dealt with Wills where the layout has not been accepted by the Probate Registry meaning additional documents have then had to be produced to prove the validity of the will.

Conclusion

This is just a brief introduction to the some of the problems encountered when dealing with Wills and estates. Hopefully, you will agree that it is important to create a will and seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor when doing so.

If you would like to create a Will or review your existing one, please do not hesitate to contact us.



WHAT HAPPENS WHEN COHABITING COUPLES BREAK UP?

Many couples make the decision to pool their resources and move in together to increase their buying power. This is great! But what many cohabiting couples don’t realise is that they have very little legal or financial protection relating to their property if the relationship breaks down.
Cohabiting couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples, no matter how long they have been together. The terms “common-law” and “de-facto partner” don’t exist in the eyes of English law, no matter how long the relationship. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the rights of unmarried couples that live together – people think they have rights that in fact don’t exist in current law.

If an unmarried couple living together split up and the property is in one person’s name, the first step is to work out whether the other person has an interest in the property – for example, by paying towards the mortgage, helping with repairs or even having contributed to the deposit. However, if these contributions are not reflected within a written agreement setting out the respective shares of the property, the partner who is not named on the title deed may find themselves struggling to establish the extent of their share if they separate and, in extreme cases, without any rights to the home they have shared with their former partner.

There are ways to avoid this and so, ultimately, unmarried couples need to take extra care and obtain legal advice when purchasing a property to ensure that their arrangements are fair, and legally recognisable.

If you need advice about anything covered here, just call us on 01253 766866.





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