Ros Danson of EMG Solicitors

Member Article

Landmark ruling important to wills says NE solicitor

A LEADING North East solicitor says a landmark ruling which overturned instructions in a will, highlights the need to leave clear instructions on why people aren’t beneficiaries.

Heather Illott of Hertfordshire was this week awarded a third of her estranged mother’s estate by the Court of Appeal, despite instructions that all her money should go to animal charities.

And Ros Danson, an expert in wills, trusts and probate at Durham’s EMG Solicitors says this case highlights what she always impresses on clients – that making a will is not just about deciding who will benefit from an estate.

“It is equally as important for people to explain why they haven’t left certain family members anything,” said Ros.

“Then if they were to challenge a will, there could be shown that there was a reason why the deceased person chose not to include them.

“That can save an awful lot of heartbreak and expense.”

Ros specialises in bespoke wills, where there may be complications because of an extended family.

“The truth is because so many people now have new partners but may have children from a first marriage, it’s important that they are properly provided for,” said Ros.

“And if someone doesn’t leave full instructions with their wishes then the situation can become a minefield.” Ros is aware of many cases where spouses with children from a first marriage pass away, without leaving the appropriate paperwork. She added that “Life interest” instructions are becoming more and more popular, allowing a second partner to remain in the family home but ensuring that if they pass away or remarry, then the actual property goes to the right people.

Ros’s concern is that anyone who has started a new life with a different partner – and that includes those in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships – forgets to make provisions for those around them.

“It’s really important to me that parents in particular think about these issues,” she said.

“It would be tragic not to think ahead and ensure not only your wishes are carried out but your family is also secure.”

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