To ensure you have correctly identified the beneficiaries of your Will is one good reason to get legal advice when making your Will. The following High Court case shows the pitfalls of not doing so when the beneficiaries could not be found or no longer existed.
A couple had bequeathed gifts to several causes which were to include a cottage hospital and maternity and children’s ward in another that could not be identified and the former could not be traced as ever being established, the latter had changed direction and developed into a cardiology and cancer treatment specialist centre, with none of the wards (children’s or maternity) that were beneficiaries of the Will. This left the trustees to ask for help from the courts to determine where the gifts should be distributed to.
The cottage hospitals gift was decided should go to the Community Hospital in the locality as it had taken on the role of the cottage hospital and the NHS trust who was responsible would be able to determine how best to use the gift.
The gift to the maternity hospital could still be given to the NHS trust responsible for it as there was some discretion for them to use the gift for general charitable purposes, even though the Children’s ward and maternity unit no longer existed.
There were also gifts of jewellery and clothing to a close friend who had died and the court determined that these should go to her daughter. The final gift to an unnamed parish church was granted to the local church in which the couple lived and where they were buried.
There are two lessons to be learnt from this, check your beneficiaries and ensure you keep your Will up to date. With the help of your lawyer these difficulties in following your wishes can be avoided. Contact us today either online or by phone on 01536 276300 or 01536 311690 for expert help and advice with all aspects of Wills.