I was browsing through a newspaper last week and stumbled across a problem page. The person who had written in wanted to challenge their stepmother’s Will.
The problem was an all too common one. Her father had gone onto remarry after her mother’s death. He and his new wife then made simple mirror Wills. So, when he passed away a few years later he left everything, including his late wife’s possessions to his new wife.
She then decided to change her Will reducing the percentage of the estate her stepdaughter received in favour of her own children. She even gifted jewellery belonging to her husband’s first wife to her friend!
Don’t leave your lives work on trust
Naturally the stepdaughter was upset and hurt that her mother’s jewellery had been gifted to a stranger. She was equally upset that she was now only going to inherit 25% of her parents’ home. It had been her father’s intention for her to inherit the house and any saving to be split equally between her and his stepchildren.
He had simply trusted his wife would honour his wishes.
It is so easy to protect against this scenario. A carefully thought out Will with good advise. Allowing for gifts of personal items, considering every scenario, looking at how property is owned and if necessary, taking a more protective stance.
For most people the family home is the biggest asset. By owning it as tenants in common, meaning you own half each, it is possible to ensure that the 50% share of the first to die always goes to the intended beneficiaries regardless of how the survivor chooses to live the rest of their live.
In this scenario he could of left his new wife a right to occupy his home. This would of provided the security of somewhere to live until she passed away without her actually owning it. This would of protected his daughter’s inheritance and saved her a lot of heartache.
There has never been a better time to put your affairs in order. We have reduced our fees by 50% until the new year.