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Wills: What happens to any specific gifts you may want to leave? #Wills #Gifts

Posted on 21 October 2019 by Catherine Murton

Wills: What happens to any specific gifts you may want to leave? #Wills #Gifts

I often have very interesting, and perhaps slightly random, conversations with my clients. I truly have no idea how this particular conversation started but my client told me (and gave me permission to share with you) that it is sensible to keep your children’s milk teeth as, if you ever need stem cells, they are stored in those teeth! Now I am sure you are wondering where this is leading.

Well it got me thinking about things that have no monetary value and are perhaps, in the eyes of some, items that just need to be discarded. Photographs, the first draft of the book you always thought you had in you, your Dolly Parton vinyl collection or the ashes of your beloved Fido. All things that perhaps have huge sentimental value to you but could easily be overlooked as rubbish to the person dealing with the administration of your estate after you have passed away.

I was once told by a barrister that specialised in contentious probate cases that, in his experience, the most distressing, time consuming and expensive cases were the arguments over the Elvis mug. “Elvis mug?” I asked. “Yes, you know, the thing that is worth nothing but the sentimental value means everyone wants it and they are all willing to fight for it whatever the emotional and financial cost.”

When someone dies without a Will, or intestate as it is legally termed, specific gifts are not covered under the rules of intestacy. A specific gift is similar to a legacy but, instead of being a fixed cash sum, it is the gift of a particular item. This might be a large gift, such as a house or land, or something tiny (but perhaps far more important) like who receives your wedding band. Specific gifts can only be ensured by making sure they are included in your Will.

Specific gifts in a Will can, however, cause problems when they have not been given enough consideration. If you have two children and you gift one your very valuable painting of Red Rum because she loves horses, is your other child going to be given a cash equivalent legacy? If not, will the inequality of the division of the estate cause problems between the siblings when you have gone?

You may decide to gift a house rather than leave this to fall into your overall estate. I dealt with an estate many years ago where the testatrix had just one child. She had a house and a few thousand pounds in a savings policy. Her Will (not drawn up by a solicitor I might add) left the house to her son and the remainder of her estate after expenses to her best friend. In the last year of her life she became frail and went into residential care. The property was sold to pay for her care fees. She died just six months after the sale of the property and the majority of the sale proceeds were intact in her bank account. Unfortunately, the wording of the Will meant that her son got nothing, as there was no longer a property in her estate, and her friend the entire estate. Luckily, the friend was very decent and honoured the intentions of the deceased lady but the outcome could have been very different.

If you would like to talk to me about making a Will I can be contacted on 01935 382689 or, alternatively, on catherine.murton@pardoes.co.uk. I can offer free initial consultations and home visits if required. You can also drop into any of our free legal clinics.

Posted in: Wills