Posted by James McNeile, Partner
On 1 September 2016 Withy King LLP merged with Royds LLP. The trading name for the merged firm is Royds Withy King. All content produced prior to this date will remain in the name of the firms pre-merger.
For the children – A sad story that shows why you must make a Will
All had started off so well. Sarah and Anthony were on their way North to spend a “dirty” weekend away without their children, Peter and Sandra, aged four and two. The children were being looked after at home by Anthony’s parents, Geoff and Grace who were into their seventies. Anthony and Sarah were in their forties, both fit and successful in their own lines of business – insurance for him and hairdressing for her. They had never given thought to making a Will.
Then tragedy struck on a single carriageway stretch of the A1. Sarah and Anthony were confronted by a lorry careering along the wrong side of the road; within seconds they were dead. The consequences were devastating from both a financial and personal point of view.
Grandparents Geoff and Grace were thrown into a situation which could not have been further from their minds. They applied to Court to become guardians of the children – there really was nobody else; in the short term they moved into Anthony and Sarah’s house so that the children could continue at playgroup and school, so that their lives were not disrupted any more then they had already been.
They made an application to be appointed administrators of the estates of Sarah and Anthony in dealing with their intestate estates. Sarah and Anthony’s businesses had to be sold. Fortunately, despite the assets being significant, no inheritance tax was payable. Eventually Geoff and Grace sold their own house in central London and purchased a substantial property near where Anthony and Sarah had lived to make a new home together with the children.
On the completion of the administration of the estate Grace and Geoff retired as continuing trustees and appointed two family members, a solicitor and a barrister’s clerk, in their places. Fortunately funds were relatively plentiful and the four of them were able to live relatively comfortably from then on.
However, despite the sacrifices made by Geoff and Grace, the children were resentful of them and almost blamed them for the loss of their parents. This became particularly poignant in the children’s teenage years. The children did not particularly apply themselves at school; despite their relatively comfortable material lifestyles – they did not really settle happily into the adult world of work and relationships. Nothing would have ever brought Anthony and Sarah back as far as the children were concerned.
The provision of a simple Will incorporating guardians (who could have been contemporaries of the children’s parents) could well have altered the lives of both the children and the grandparents. The children could have grown up with guardians the same age as their parents so that they could have enjoyed a more normal relationship with their grandparents. The grandparents themselves could have enjoyed their own retirement and being with the grandchildren as and when required.
Whilst the characters in this story are fictional, we do have to deal with situations like this – and sometimes even more upsetting – on a regular basis. You do not need to be rich for it to be important to make a Will.
If you have comments on this blog please contact Tony Millson, Head of Private Client on 020 7583 2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org