Dying without a valid will can cause confusion and more upset to loved ones who are left to administer your estate.
We helped family members where a young couple and their baby sadly died in a tragic accident. Neither husband nor wife had a will at the time of their death. This meant their respective estates were dealt with by their closest surviving family members in accordance with the intestacy rules. If a married couple have wills prepared they would usually share common executors who would be able to deal with both estates.
Sadly the two families acting for their respective children did not have a good relationship which made administering the estates more difficult. We acted on behalf of the husband’s mother. However, due to the upset caused by her son’s death she, with our guidance, appointed her daughter to act for her as her attorney to administer her son’s estate.
At the time of the accident which killed the husband and wife and their baby, the couple owned assets jointly and in their own right.
Consideration needed to be given to the various interests the husband had in various types of assets and we guided the family on how these would be dealt with on succession.
As the husband was older than his wife and because there was no way of knowing who had died first it is deemed that the eldest died first. This means that assets, including their home, which they owned as joint tenants, passed to the wife’s estate. However, it also meant that the husband’s estate had no interest in paying the mortgage which was jointly held on their home.
The intestacy rules needed to be considered in detail as the closest members of the husband’s family, his wife and child, who would be expected to inherit first had also died and so had not survived the required period of time set out by the intestacy rules which meant the husband’s estate passed to his mother.
If the husband and wife had in place professionally prepared wills they would likely have dealt with who would receive their estates in the event of both their deaths, which would have made dealing with the estates more straightforward and probably resulted in a fairer outcome across the two families.