How a loving mother left her daughter penniless and homeless, by accident.
Here at Just Wills and Legal Services, we often hear from clients who wish that their loved ones had come to us when planning their estates. One of those clients has kindly agreed to share her family’s story with us, to show how a properly planned estate – including a property protection trust – could have protected a fourteen year old girl from losing her inheritance.
We have removed any identifying details, but otherwise this is her story as she told it to us:
“In July 2007 I took the shocking phone call from my Mum to tell me that my sister had died. This was unbelievable because my sister – who was only in her early fifties – did not look like she was going to die.
“The only indication we had had that she was unwell was that she had recently suffered three very bad headaches that brought dizziness, fainting and sickness. These headaches were being investigated. During one episode of illness her husband took her to hospital where she had a scan of her head.
“She was told there was no tumour or anything else to be concerned about to her brain and head area. The doctors then attempted a lumbar puncture procedure, which she called a halt to due to pain and discomfort.
“Financially, my sister was a bit daft. She earned around £40,000 per annum but found it difficult to budget and always had credit card debt behind her. When she died she was happily married to her third husband. Her fourteen year old daughter was from her second marriage, and the second husband was not part of his daughter’s life.
“The husband she was married to when she died had two children from his first marriage.
“With her husband she owned a property jointly. It was worth about £400,000 and the mortgage was for around £300,000. She had contributed to half of the equity from the proceeds of a previous property she had owned. The funds to buy that first property had come from her father.
“Upon death the mortgage insurance paid off the mortgage and her third husband automatically became sole owner of the house worth £400,000 with no mortgage to pay. He also picked up her ‘death in service’ payout from work, which was around £120,000.
“He then gave up work in September 2007, giving as a reason that a fourteen year old was too much work (he had become legal guardian to my niece).
“Later it was discovered that the doctor who attended my sister’s brain scan had made a mistake and indeed an aneurysm was very clear on the scan. She could have been operated on and her life saved had the doctor not made this error.
“So her widower put his energies into suing the NHS which took around four years. He was awarded a payment of £253,000.
“During this time the relationship between him and his step-daughter had broken down. He had formed several relationships with other women starting only six months after the death of his wife. He asked my niece to leave the house and she was not in contact with her family but living in a hostel in Slough.
“Years on, the relationship between them is still not solved and when the NHS were proved negligent, the judge awarded my niece just £20,000 from the £253,000.
“My sister’s third husband is now in a position to write his will and leave everything to his two children and nothing to my niece. What a difference a property protection trust would have made in my sisters will!”
If you’d like to avoid accidentally disinheriting your own children, then please contact us for a free consultation with one of our legal experts. Book online or call 01342 477 102 and quote ‘Lack of Trust blog’.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.