When a basic simple Will isn't enough.
You may have seen in the news recently the story of three siblings who are heading to court to challenge their late stepmother's exclusion of them from her will in favor of her biological child.
Siblings cut out of £300,000 will so stepmum's son can look after her beloved parrot
Originally, the siblings were supposed to receive an equal share of their father and stepmother's estate according to their wills. However, after their father's passing, the stepmother revised her will, leaving everything solely to her biological child. The siblings argue that their stepmother made
verbal assurances to their father about not disinheriting them. The initial court ruling favored the stepbrother, stating that there was no legal obligation to include the stepchildren. The siblings are now disputing this decision, claiming that a verbal promise was made and their father relied on it when creating his will.
60% of people in the UK have wills in place. Having talked to many people who have made will it is clear that significant portion of people may opt for simple basic wills. A basic will typically includes straightforward provisions for the distribution of assets, appointment of executors, and guardianship for minor children, without involving complex estate planning strategies or trusts. Many individuals assume that their estates are relatively uncomplicated and, as a result, opt for this type of will to ensure their assets are distributed in accordance with their wishes. This appeared to be the case in the aforementioned story.
How could this have been prevented?
A protected property trust could have been established to ensure that the other siblings would still inherit their share of the estate, even if the stepmother decided to amend her will. A protected property trust is a legal arrangement where assets, such as property, are placed into a trust for the benefit of certain beneficiaries. In this case, the trust could have been set up with the siblings as beneficiaries, ensuring that they would receive their intended share of the property regardless of any changes made to the stepmother's will.
By placing the property in a trust, the stepmother would still have been able to reside in and enjoy the property during her lifetime, but the ownership and ultimate distribution of the property would have been protected for the siblings. This arrangement would have provided a level of security and assurance for the siblings, as the trust would have legally bound the stepmother to honor their intended inheritance. This type of trust offers a practical solution for preserving family assets and ensuring that intended beneficiaries receive their intended inheritance.