The plight of Stuart Herd, who lost his family inheritance of £150,000 because his stepmother changed her Mirror Will and left everything to her own family, is a cautionary tale for anyone who has children outside their current relationship, according to Andrew Simpson, Lead Panel Solicitor with legal and financial planning specialist Ensure Inheritance.
“The best way to ensure your children are not disinherited after your death is to place your assets into a Wealth Preservation Trust. This effectively ring-fences your assets and ensures that only your nominated beneficiaries will receive their inheritance,” says Mr Simpson.
With increasing numbers of divorces, second marriages and partnerships, and therefore step-children, the use of Wealth Preservation Trusts is growing. They can also have a number of other benefits, including protecting assets from the impact of long term care fees. More details at http://www.ensureinheritance.co.uk/long-term-care-planning/
Mr Simpson continues: “Stuart lost his inheritance no fault of his own, but had his father and step-mother been advised differently, so that the interests of each of their children were absolutely protected, rather than trusting the surviving spouse to do the right thing at a later date, the outcome would have been much fairer for both children.”
Stuart’s case was highlighted recently in The Telegraph. He still feels bitter after more than three years at what he calls his late stepmother’s “cruel act of betrayal”.
Stuart explains what happened. He says:
“After my mother died my father William Herd re-married. Shortly afterwards they visited a medium sized firm of solicitors and Mirror Wills were prepared. Under the terms of those Wills the estate first passed to the surviving spouse and then to my stepbrother and myself in equal shares.
“What people often overlook is that Mirror Wills are only suitable for partners that can be trusted to carry out your wishes. Where a partner cannot be trusted or lacks basic morals the consequences can be disastrous.
“Following my stepmother’s death in 2012, I discovered she had changed her Will in 2008 and left everything to her own family. Legally she was quite entitled to do this, but morally she had betrayed my late father and broken her promise to me. It should be noted there was never a cross word between us and we had remained in constant contact following my late father’s death.
“I had done everything asked of me by my late father and ended up losing my family inheritance of approximately £150,000, which also included the estates of my late grandparents and mother.
“Even some three years on I still cannot come to terms with the consequences of my stepmother’s actions. As a youngster I had a very hard upbringing where money was always scarce and this family have just come along and taken everything. My inheritance, or part of it, would have made such a difference to our current situation.
“Because I have been advised my late stepmother did nothing wrong legally the only chance I have is to keep my story in the public domain in the hope it will encourage my stepmother’s family to do the right thing. Also I want to warn others that Mirror Wills should be used with great care.”
Based in Seaham in County Durham, Ensure Inheritance provides a range of legal and financial planning services which help protect financial assets to provide their clients and their loved ones with peace of mind. In addition to Wills and Estate planning, services include: long term care planning, funeral planning, inheritance tax planning, powers of attorney, court of protection deputyships, and probate.
Ensure Inheritance can be contacted on tel. 0191 338 5143, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via its website www.ensureinheritance.co.uk