Two brothers, John Smith and William Smith, lived together all their lives, never married, or had children and their parents/grandparents pre-deceased them. Both gentlemen had Wills in place.
John Smith died in early 2013 and his Will stated, "I devise and bequeath the residue of my real and personal estate whatsoever and wheresoever to my brother William Smith. If my brother William Smith should die within 30 days of my death or predecease me then I devise and bequeath the residue of my real and personal estate whatsoever and wheresoever to be divided equally between my cousin Joanne Bloggs and my cousin Wendy Bloggs."
William Smith's Will had the same worded paragraph, but John Smith is named in place of William, the cousins remain the same named individuals.
John Smith’s residue estate was inherited by his brother William Smith. William Smith DID NOT update his Will following the death of his brother John and cousin, Joanne Bloggs (who died in August 2013).
William Smith died in 2019.
Crescent Research were asked for their opinion on the above scenario.
William’s cousin, Wendy Bloggs, believed she was entitled to the entire residue estate of William Smith as his brother John and cousin Joanne Bloggs had pre-deceased him and she was the only other named individual in the Will. This was incorrect.
Crescent Research correctly advised that Wendy Bloggs was entitled to 50% of William's residue estate, as per his Will, and the remaining 50% of the residue estate must be dealt with under Intestacy rules due to there being no further succession or survivorship clause in the Will in the event of Joanne Bloggs pre-deceasing William.
Having been advised the only family was a maternal cousin (Wendy Bloggs) and 3 children born to Joanne Bloggs, we undertook extensive genealogical research to ascertain if there were any other entitled individuals.
Crescent Research was able to confirm and verify that there were 2 maternal branches on William Smith’s family tree (which included his cousins Joanne and Wendy Bloggs), together with 10 paternal branches which contained 40 living relatives. These 40 paternal relatives (first cousins or their children), together with the 4 maternal family relatives, will now inherit the intestate portion of William’s residue estate.
William had taken the time to make his wishes known and written his Will but following the death of his brother John and cousin Joanne, had not updated his Will to ensure his wishes remained as he originally intended.
This occurrence does stress why it is so important to ensure your Will, or that of your client(s), is kept up to date and reviewed at least every 3 – 5 years to safeguard these wishes in the event of death.