It’s the beginning of the year. New Year Resolutions are discussed. Chances are someone will mention “I’ve got to make a Will”. That’s often followed, understandably, by “I just want to keep it simple”. That could even lead to thoughts of a DIY Will. That’s when it can get interesting.
Consider this very simple Will we recently came across:
“I give my estate to be shared out among my siblings”
What could be simpler?
Let’s say the Will was prepared by Bill, who had 4 siblings: Charlie, Percy, Mary and Ginny. Bill got on well with them all and so made his Will in early 2018 with the intention that each would get a 1/4 share of his estate when he died.
Bill died later in the year, with Percy having died beforehand.
In circumstances where a beneficiary predeceases, the gift to them “lapses” and it needs to be established what should happen to this failed gift of the estate.
When there is a gift to two or more people, the presumption is that they are to benefit as a group – and so, following Percy’s death, Charlie, Mary and Ginny would each receive a 1/3 share of Bill’s estate.
However, that’s the presumption and it can be displaced if there are words of severance within the Will, which indicates each member of the group is instead to receive a distinct share of the estate. The usual example of words of severance is the inclusion of the word “equally”. Bill didn’t use this word, but instead the phrase “shared out among” – does this indicate each sibling is to receive a distinct share of his estate? If so, the presumption that the gift is to the group as a whole has been displaced.
That could create a partial intestacy; another subject for another day.
A Will can be simple provided the right words are used to carry through your wishes. But it does not get any simpler than calling us on 0191 284 5030. Once properly prepared, all you need do then is keep it up to date. You’ll receive an annual reminder from us just in case.