Articles about solicitors and legal services

Failure to draw up a written will leads to family dispute

The kind of complex family dispute that can arise when people fail to draw up a will was illustrated in a recent case before the Court of Appeal.

The case involved a couple who each had sons through previous relationships.

The couple had made an oral agreement for mutual wills. The agreement was that on the first death, the estate would pass to the surviving partner.

The surviving partner would then be bound by an irrevocable trust to leave the estate when they died to the two sons in equal shares.

When the surviving partner died 15 years later, her son disputed that there had ever been an oral will that would entitle the other son to half the estate.

This resulted in legal proceedings that went all the way to the Court of Appeal, which upheld that there had been an oral will.

A resolution may have been achieved in the end but not without considerable stress and expense for the two sons — all of which could have been avoided if the couple had consulted their solicitor to draw up a written will.

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