A sad case called British Red Cross v Werry  was reported earlier this year. The facts of that case were that a couple (Peter and Patricia) had lived together as man and wife for around 45 years although they had never married. Peter died in 2008 and it was believed that he had not left a will. This meant that his estate, including the flat in which he and Patricia had lived together as a couple for decades, passed to his cousins and other family members under the statutory intestacy rules and unfortunately Patricia was not entitled to anything from his estate.
Faced with the prospect of potential eviction from her home, Patricia applied to the court for financial provision out of his estate. Ultimately she reached an agreement with Peter’s family that she should be allowed to have a life interest in the property, i.e. a right to continue living in the property rent-free for the rest of her life, and that agreement was finalised in a court order.
When Patricia died 6 years later, the property was cleared out and at that point an old Will was found which Peter had made in 1973 by which he gave the property outright to Patricia on his death.
The tragic fact about this case is that Patricia went to her grave believing that Peter had not made any financial provision for her. Furthermore, significant legal costs would have been incurred, firstly when Patricia took legal proceedings to claim financial provision out of Peter’s estate, and secondly to set aside the agreement Patricia had reached with the family which was based on the mistaken belief that Peter had not left a Will.
This case highlights the importance of making adequate arrangements for the safe and secure storage of your Will, and also the importance of telling your executors and/or your nearest and dearest (a) that you have made a Will and (b) where your Will is kept.
Hunters offers to all our clients the option to hold their Will in our safe storage at no extra charge as part of our Will making service.