We were instructed by the cousin of Mrs W who had died a widow with no children. Our client had looked after Mrs W for many years and there were no other relatives around who assisted. Mrs W did not make a Will. Our client thought that because she had always been to one to do everything for her cousin, she would be entitled to more of the Estate even though she was aware Mrs W had not made a Will. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Mrs W had no children and was an only child. This means the distribution of the Estate required us to instruct a research company to investigate the family tree. The distribution of the Estate amongst the surviving relatives was extremely complicated, Mrs W’s Mother alone had 10 siblings with each branch of that family needing to be traced, addresses established, birth and death certificates obtained and so on. The same was required in relation to her Father’s relatives. The ultimate distribution was to 65 beneficiaries in varying shares ranging from 1/12th of the Residuary Estate to 1/1008th share! The beneficiaries were located variously in England, Australia and Europe. The cost to the Estate of tracing and contacting all these people was huge and the person who really deserved to benefit and had cared for Mrs W for so long received no proper recognition. All of this could, of course, have been avoided if Mrs W had made a simple Will choosing to benefit the people she loved and cared about.