This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Probate team and provides a useful reminder to us all to ensure that we have a Will in place, and that it is reviewed and updated regularly.
Thomson Snell & Passmore has many years' experience in dealing with administration of estates of all sizes and complexity, and in different jurisdictions.
In early 2010, our probate team successfully finalised the administration of the estate of Miss A, who died in 2006. Miss A had previously made a Will, but both beneficiaries had predeceased her, so neither gift was valid and the Will ineffective. She therefore died wholly intestate.
Miss A was born in an Eastern European country and came to the UK during the early part of World War II. During the course of the next 55 years, Miss A accumulated an estate valued at £3.5 million at her death. This included two substantial residential properties, investments and a significant amount of cash.
After extensive work to try and discover whether Miss A had made a valid Will, we worked closely with a local firm of genealogists to secure the entitlement of Miss A's nephew, under the intestacy rules.
Mr A still lives in Miss A’s home country and had only met his aunt on a couple of occasions. Very little was known about Miss A's life here in the UK and so extensive research was undertaken to ensure there were no persons with a prior, or equal, right to the estate and to establish Mr A's entitlement. This included securing Missing Beneficiary Insurance to cover the position should any unknown relatives surface in the future, and claim on her estate.
Other issues that we had to deal with in the administration, included dealing with squatters at both residential properties on a number of occasions; arranging the sale of the properties, which were in poor condition, to achieve the best possible price under sealed bids; securing the clearance of the properties which were both, ground to roof, full of rubbish, and it took a professional clearance firm over two months to deal with this; putting security in place, and working with the police and the housing departments of the local council.
We were also engaged in significant research to trace the assets comprised in Miss A's estate, as there were no family or friends who could give this information. We successfully finalised the estate to secure the maximum amount possible for the nephew, and in the most tax efficient manner given his non-UK residence.
This was a somewhat unique estate. However, many of the complexities may not have arisen had Miss A had a valid Will.