Case Studies

Wills - Some true stories!

A man died without a Will. It could not be established that his birth was ever registered and therefore next of kin could not be established. His estate worth $180,000 passed to the Government.

A reclusive woman decided to write her own Will. The only relative with whom she had contact was a niece. However, after writing her own Will, she asked the niece's husband to sign the Will as her witness. On her death she left an estate worth $400,000, but unfortunately the niece was not able to inherit the estate due to the fact her husband had signed the Will as a witness. The Will fell into intestacy as a spouse of a beneficiary should not be a witness. The estate was distributed to entitled next of kin.

A woman decided to write her own Will and one of the terms was "I want my house sold and the money from the sale placed into my investments". On her death, it was noticed the woman had 2 investments, one which passed to her husband and the other which passed to her infant son. The issue was who was entitled to the proceeds of the sale of the house?

A woman drafted her own Will and she used a number of terms such as "balance", "remainder" and "residue". The whole Will was confused and conflicting. Action was taken in court to rectify the terms of the Will and the cost was $13,000, and took 2 years to complete. The value of the estate was $78,000.

An eighteen year old man had been living with his girlfriend for only 6 months when he died without a Will. The court decided that his girlfriend was his legal de facto spouse, and she received his entire, substantial estate. The man's parent's received nothing.

A Will provided for the income from a very expensive property to be paid to a person during her lifetime and after her death the property was to go to "Crown Street Women's Hospital". By the time the lady died that hospital had closed down and a lot of legal costs were spent in an application to the Court to decide which Charities were to receive the property. This could have been avoided by a carefully drafted Will.

John Thomas was a wealthy and educated man. He left a Will in Australia to cover his Australian assets and a Will in England to cover his U.K. assets. Unfortunately his Hong Kong assets were not covered by either Will and were administered according to the Laws of Intestacy of Hong Kong.

When Tim Smith and his wife divorced there was a Court approved settlement. His ex-wife, Shirley, left the family home to begin a new relationship. Tim made a Will leaving everything to his children who resided with him. Can you imagine their surprise when Shirley successfully challenged the Will.

Jim had looked after his uncle Wayne for many years and had been assured that he was included in the Will. When Wayne died Jim, searched the house for a Will but to no avail. He checked all the local solicitors, banks and anyone else who might have dealings with his uncle. There was no evidence of a Will anywhere or anything to suggest Wayne ever made a Will. Under the Laws of Intestacy, Jim shared his uncle's estate with several other nieces and nephews who barely knew their uncle and never attended to any of his needs.

21 year old girl with no Will was killed in a motor vehicle accident during the course of her employment. There was $200,000 accident cover. The estate passed to mother and father equally on intestacy but the father had deserted family weeks before she was born. He had had no contact since but was entitled to $100,000.

A ‘family’ consisting of 3 step children fought for 3 years over the division of old ‘antique’ furniture which was valued at $6,000. Legal costs incurred by the children amounted to $55,000.

Husband filled in a ‘do-it –yourself’ Will form – intending to leave the whole estate to his wife. He inserted his wife’s name in the section of the form appointing her the executrix but forgot to insert her name in the section for nominating a beneficiary - in effect, he left the whole estate to nobody.


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