Here is a tale that it gives me no pleasure to tell, and in order to tell it I will use imaginary people but the circumstances are very real and happened recently…
Many years ago Andrea married Brian and they had a daughter, Sophie. Years later, when Sophie was a young woman, Brian discovered that Andrea had been having an affair with his brother Graham for most of their marriage. Brian had always wondered why Graham was apparently single and he had now found out. Andrea and Brian divorced and Andrea went to live with Graham in the house that he had bought, and they lived together for more than 20 years as an unmarried couple but sharing the same surname. Sophie never forgave Graham for breaking her father’s heart and would see her mother only away from the house.
Graham was, by his own admission, not good with money. He paid his mortgage and bills but could never have anything left over as he would spend it as soon as he had it and he ran up some debts. To alleviate this, he decided to release some of the equity from his house and took a lifetime mortgage, settled the debts and paid off the remainder of his original mortgage. In order to prevent reckless spending of what remained, he and Andrea agreed that they would keep the money in a savings account in Andrea’s name only, with her permission needed for any withdrawals. They managed very well with this arrangement and preserved the money for necessary spending and holidays.
At the time of releasing the equity, they very wisely had wills drawn up, but then very unwisely decided to cancel the wills, taking the view that they could do this at a later time. Recently, suddenly and unexpectedly, Andrea died. Graham was shocked and distraught, but worse was to come. Because they weren’t married or in a civil partnership, and didn’t have wills, the rules of intestacy would apply to Andrea’s estate – including the money in her bank savings account, money that had been raised from the equity in Graham’s house. Because she and Brian were divorced, her next of kin is Sophie, so under intestacy rules that money will now become Sophie’s, tens of thousands of pounds that were set aside to provide a comfortable retirement for Graham and Andrea. No-one will expect Sophie to give this money to Graham, so he faces an uncertain future without Andrea or the money. All because they didn’t make wills.
Don’t let this happen in your family. Make choices, don’t take chances.
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Written By Mark Everest – Mark is retired from the police service and is married to Susan with two grown up daughters. He has been in estate planning for five years and is one of our estate planners. Mark also produces and presents our seminars on estate planning and equity release, as well as being the author of our explanatory cartoons. When he isn’t working Mark’s interests include motorcycling, tourism and particularly cricket, where he is an England fan as well as a player, umpire and club secretary for his local village side.