£90 Will Left Beneficiary with No Inheritance
23 June 2015 by Amy Burton
When Ebenezer Aregbesola decided to prepare a Will in 2007, he contacted his bank, Barclays, who offered a £90 Will-writing service. Ebenezer owned assets and properties both in London and overseas.
He wanted his daughter, Tinuola Aregbesola, to receive his half share in the London property that he owned with his wife.
Accordingly, the Will was prepared and specifically mentioned the gift of this property to his daughter. So when Ebenezer passed away in 2014, his daughter thought that she would be inheriting a half share of her father’s house.
However what Barclays had neglected to investigate was the mode of ownership of the property.
When a property is owned as Joint Tenants, upon the death of the first owner, the property will automatically pass into the sole name of the survivor, regardless of what is written in their Will.
In order for a share in a property to pass under the terms of a Will, the property must be owned as Tenants in Common.
If a property is not already owned as Tenants in Common, then as part of the Will writing process, the joint tenancy will need to be “severed”.
This is something that Barclays failed to address.
Unfortunately, Ebenezer and his wife owned their property as Joint Tenants, which meant that the gift of the property in his Will failed and the whole property passed into his wife’s sole name.
Ebenezer’s daughter decided to pursue Barclays with a view to claiming compensation and after an investigation, the Legal Ombudsman found in her favour. They ordered Barclays to pay “a fair and reasonable settlement”.
Somewhat surprisingly, Barclays decided to ignore the Legal Ombudsman ruling and the matter is now set to be heard before the High Court.
Quite often with Will-writing companies, they can neglect to assess the context of a client’s wishes and investigate the, very important, background facts.
This is not a risk that you take when a Solicitor prepares a Will on your behalf. A client’s wishes may sometimes mean that we have to consult with Solicitors in other departments, such as Commercial matters, if the client owns a business, or with Conveyancing, if there are complex matters to address in respect of their property. This is something that we can facilitate, to ensure that you receive a Will which fulfills your wishes and requirements – whilst also ensuring that all legal aspects are also in order.
For full commentary on Ebenezer’s particular case, please click here to open the Telegraph Money’s article.