A recent case on this very subject has , some will say, clarified the law but to be sure of leaving your estate to those you really want to benefit, a professionally drawn Will must still be the preferred option.
In the recent case of King v The Chiltern Dog Rescue (2015), the late June Fairbrother who died in April 2011, had made a will in 1998 in which she left a number of legacies to friends and family and the rest of her estate to several animal welfare charities. Kenneth King was her nephew. He had moved in to live with her and care for her until she died about 4 years before her death. He claimed that around 4-6 months before she died, Ms Fairbrother had handed him the title deeds to her house and said “This will be yours when I go”.
Mr King claimed that Miss Fairbrother had given him the house before she had died. The animal charities disagreed and defended his claim, saying that the gift was not valid and the house should go to them under the terms of the 1998 will.
For this type of gift (known as a “donatio mortis causa” by us latin loving lawyers) to be effective, there are very strict requirements. One is that the gift must be made “in contemplation of death” . The Court found that Miss Fairbrother was not anticipating “her impending death” and the words she used were in fact an expression of intention but sadly for Mr King she didn’t update her will before she died so as leave the house to him and his claim failed.
So the moral of the tale is don’t leave things to chance – download our FREE Will Planner to get you started and call us on 0800 169 9432 to arrange your appointment today.