We have to wake up to wills before it's too late
Sunday 20 July 2008
I feel a lot of sympathy for Christine Gill in her courtroom battle for the estate of her deceased parents, which began last week. After caring for her mother and father for many years, she could reasonably have expected better than to find they had left their estimated £2.3m estate to the RSPCA, which incidentally is just about the UK's wealthiest charity. Understandably Christine feels aggrieved and is trying to get the will overturned. But as with any challenge to a legal will, she faces a huge battle, not least because the RSPCA will be lawyered up to the eyeballs.
Christine's case is an extreme one but there are probably thousands of will-related heartaches that go unreported each year. Some are by design, others by cock-up.
Problems can arise in all sorts of ways such as having an old will where the legacies are out of date, or a badly written will where it's not clear who gets what. One of the worst situations I've heard of was when someone bought one of those DIY will kits and filled it out. Sadly, they didn't understand the law and got the chief beneficiary to act as a witness. Automatically, that person was barred from the inheritance.
Nearly as bad as a poorly drawn-up will is no will at all. Die without one and the intestacy law kicks in – and the rules governing that date from some bygone era that only ever existed in Enid Blyton books. Spouses get the bulk of the estate (although when there are kids and the estate is large, far from all of it) but unmarried partners are entitled to zilch. Intestacy laws are a crude and unreliable backstop to making a will.
Despite all this, some two-thirds of us don't have a will. So why's that? Of course a good many people are simply too busy or lazy, while others can't bear to think about the grim reaper. And a fair proportion, I guess, are put off by the horrendous legal jargon that wills are couched in.
No justice at the Rock
Northern Rock's deal with Lloyds TSB to, in effect, transfer a large amount of its better-quality mortgage business should come into force any day now. Those borrowers escaping the Rock in the next few weeks can breathe a sigh of relief, particularly as the nationalised bank is basically persuading customers to leave it with a crude imposition of higher-than-normal interest rates. Perhaps Lloyds should bundle an "I survived Northern Rock" T-shirt into its welcome pack.
However, as I've written before in this column, many of those borrowers who remain are probably ruing the day they ever took on a Rock mortgage. Take the reader who wrote to me when the Lloyds tie-up was first announced. He bought one of the Rock's infamous "Together" mortgages, borrowing more than 100 per cent of the value of the property in the process, and is now facing the twin misery of paying an interest rate that's over the odds and being stuck in negative equity. Crucially, the reader can't move mortgage provider because no other company wants to risk such an enormous loan-to-value.
Again I ask: aren't the actions of the Rock – expressly the higher-than-normal rates they are levying on customers – in direct contravention of the much-vaunted instruction from the Financial Services Authority that all banks and insurers should treat their customers fairly?
Plainly this bank's borrowers aren't being treated fairly – and all so that Rock chief Ron Sandler can pull off the financial Red Adair act he was appointed by the Government to perform.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Questions of Cash: Bupa costs bore no relation to what I'd been quoted
Problem gambling: Amid heavy advertising and a surge in remote sports betting, more and more 16 to 24-year-olds are now seen as 'at risk'
The HiFX guide to managing corporate foreign exchange and international payments
Plans to tackle fuel poverty are slammed by campaigners
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star dies at age 45
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...
£45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...
£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...
Day In a Page
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000