Many grieving families have sadly been torn apart by a loved one's failure to make a professionally drafted will. Exactly that happened in a High Court case concerning two brothers who fell out bitterly over which of them should take charge of administering their deceased father's estate.
The father, whose estate was worth about £500,000, died without making a will. One of his sons was granted letters of administration by which he was appointed as his father's personal representative. It thus became his responsibility to gather in and distribute the estate. In challenging his appointment, his brother made serious allegations against him, questioning his suitability for the role.
Ruling on the matter, the Court found that the difficulties between the brothers were such that the best course was to appoint an independent solicitor to administer the estate. The involvement of a neutral professional was all the more desirable in that the distribution of the estate – and the identification of those entitled to share in it – was likely to be contentious.
The absence of a will meant that the father's estate stood to be distributed amongst his next of kin. There was uncertainty as to who fell within that category in that another son, who predeceased him, was said to have given him three grandchildren. Three other individuals, of whose existence the brothers said they were previously unaware, had also come forward since his death, asserting that they were his children.