Testimonial from Compton Hospice Fund Raising Dept
“It is with great pleasure that I write and thank you for your support of the Compton Hospice Will Month Campaign.
This is the sixth year of our partnership and once again you have helped to raise significant funds to support our work in providing the best possible care for terminally ill patients and their families.
The amount raised this time was our best yet, £4,510 and that brings your overall total support to a massive £19,837:50.
Thank you for your wonderful support. We look forward to working with you again this year and hope to continue to build on this hugely successful partnership together.”
Simon Cater, Corporate Fundraiser, Compton Hospice
Testimonial from Mary Stevens Hospice Fund Raising Dept
“Thank you for your kind donation of £3,455:00 following your support of our May Will Month.
This very welcome and thoughtful donation will enable us to support our patients and their families and ensure that they receive the very best palliative care.
Without the help of supportive people like you we would be unable to offer the care which is so necessary for terminally ill patients and their carers and families.
Please do pass on my sincere thanks to all concerned.”
Stevan Jackson, CEO, Mary Stevens Hospice
“For most people facing their own mortality is something which tends to get delayed until it cannot be avoided or at least put off until a more convenient time.
Having your guidance in these delicate matters has given us the confidence and peace of mind for whatever happens in the future, knowing our estate will be dealt with in accordance with our wishes.
We would like to thank you for your professional approach in dealing with our last will and testament, and will have no hesitation in recommending BensonWilliams to others”.
Rob & Gill, Wolverhampton
Case study: The unmarried couple
Where no Will exists unmarried couples are particularly vulnerable. The facts are quite specific on the subject of unmarried couples: unmarried couples are NOT each other’s next of kin.
We were recently instructed by an unmarried couple where the lady was arguably even more at risk than most unmarried partners. The two families did not get on, so she knew that she would have little sympathy from her partner’s next of kin. Also there was a large mortgage on their house, which she could not possibly afford to pay alone. To keep her house it was essential that she inherited her partner’s assets without interference.
All easily (and inexpensively) sorted out by sitting down with us as a couple for an hour or so, and giving straight forward instructions for the drafting of mirrored Wills in favour of each other on first death. Once we had been instructed the necessary work was complete within a few days, and peace of mind restored!
Case study: The elderly client & the “deathbed Will”
An elderly lady died recently leaving her entire estate to her window cleaner rather than a relative who had been caring for her for years. The subsequent challenge to the Will highlighted the issues of “testamentary capacity” (the necessary capacity to make your Will) and of “undue influence” by a third party.
In another recent case an elderly lady wrote a “deathbed Will” cutting out her daughter and leaving everything to her son who had been her carer towards the end of her life. However the court decided that the Will was a forgery and ruled in favour of a 1999 Will which left the estate equally between both children.
Both cases highlight the levels of care needed when drafting Wills for elderly or vulnerable clients. Our own policy is always that clients should give their instructions to us alone so that no relatives or other interested parties can influence proceedings, and to follow “the golden rule” that where doubt over capacity exists a doctors note should always be obtained by the client confirming that their doctor is happy with their mental capacity.
Case study: The divorcee
One of our clients in Walsall came to us with an interesting story to tell. At the time he approached us the gentleman in question was single and living alone. However he had been in numerous relationships before, and was recently divorced. In all he had five children from four different relationships!
Needless to say we had to be particularly careful to establish the relevant facts with him on such issues as the levels of dependancy the various children had on him, and the strengths of the relationships he had with his five children. This enabled us to carry out his wishes, whilst also making sure that no unnecessary claims against his estate would be made by any of his children or ex partners.
This particular case is an extreme example of the dangers which can exist when a client has ex spouses or partners, or has children from different relationships. However it is perfectly common for people to have been divorced or have ex partners, and these people can be vulnerable if the firm drafting their Wills is not vigilant in the levels of care and advice they are giving.
Case study: The couple who died together
BensonWilliams Director Jim Stanistreet recently gave a presentation at a local business seminar based on a fascinating case. In October 2016 John and Ann Scarle, an elderly married couple, were both found dead at their home in Leigh on Sea having died from hypothermia. In cases where two people die together, or in circumstances where it is not possible to determine the orders of death, section 184 of The Law of Property Act 1925 states that the elder (in this case John) is deemed to die first, and the younger (in this case Ann) to die last. As the Mr and Mrs Scarle were in a second marriage this meant that the entire estate would pass to Mrs Scarle’s daughter, Deborah Cutler. However Mr Scarle’s daughter, Anna Winter, argued that forensic evidence based on the rates of decomposition of the two bodies indicated that, in fact, Ann had died first and therefore that her father had died second. The result of this would be that she would inherit the estate. Deborah Cutler counter argued, claiming that the two bodied were found in two different rooms, where the heat and humidity levels were not consistent, and that this would suffice as an explanation for the differing rates of decomposition. The case rumbled on until late 2019, when the court finally held that the scientific opinion was inconclusive, and that therefore section 194 of The Law of Property Act 1925 would have to apply. As a result Deborah Cutler inherited the entire estate (approximately £280,000) and Anna Winter inherited nothing and had to pick up the considerable costs. A fascinating case, but one which could easily have been avoided had Mr and Mrs Scarle made Wills.
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