Will your wishes come true?

In recent weeks the papers reported that Peter Ivory, a window cleaner from London, was facing jail unless he revealed to the Court what he  done with his late brother’s estate.
Mick Ivory, a tube driver, had sadly died in 2018 leaving an estate of over £400,000. Unfortunately Mick did not leave a Will and so his estate would normally be distributed under the intestacy rules to his relatives who in this case were his three brothers.
However, Peter has said that, on his brother’s instructions, he set about giving the estate away; making trips around Cambridge to distribute cash to the homeless and hardworking.
He is seeking to rely on a little known legal principle ‘donatio mortis causa’. This is where a person makes a gift in contemplation of his death, which is contingent on his death and there is some element of ‘delivery’ to the recipient. If a valid gift of this sort is made, the property in question does not form part of the donor’s estate on death and so would not be distributed in accordance with a person’s Will or intestacy.
The outcome of this case is awaited but it certainly highlights the cost of not having an up to date Will. No doubt legal proceedings of this kind will have a huge cost to the family financially and emotionally.
The best way to make sure that your wishes are followed after your death is to make a Will and ensure that this is kept up to date. We would suggest that you review your Will every 5 years or so but it may be sensible to look at matters more frequently in some circumstances including if:
  • There is a change to your wishes
    • For example, you wish to make or remove a legacy, change who you are leaving your estate to or appoint different Executors/Trustees/Guardians.
  • Changes to taxation or the law
    • Such as the introduction of the residential nil rate band.
  • Your family or personal circumstances change 
    • For example, if you were to marry, divorce, start a new relationship or separate from a partner; the birth of a child or even grandchild. It may also be important to review matters if you own overseas assets or are thinking about moving abroad for example.
  • Your assets change 
    • For example, if you were to move or sell a property particularly if this were included in your Will; you inherit or make a gift to a child for example.
  • Your business interests change
    • This could include starting a new business or thinking about retiring from or selling the family business.
If in doubt the safest course of action is to seek advice.
If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised above please do not hesitate to contact me jennifer.vooght@wansbroughs.com or your usual contact at Wansbroughs either by email at wealth@wansbroughs.com or telephone on 01380 733 300.

Last updated 26/03/2020