Q&A - The importance of catering for 'what-if' scenarios in a Will

Q: My cousin and her sister took responsibility for their childless widowed aunt after she got dementia. They applied for and got power of attorney to look after her financial interests and take care of her physical needs. Eventually she had to go into a nursing home, but as she was still physically very able and could have lived many years longer than the two years she did live, they sold her house and invested the proceeds to provide an income to pay for her care.

When the aunt died it transpired she had left her house to her two nieces in her Will, and the residue of her estate to their three children. However, because the nieces had sold the house, everything passed directly to their children on her death and they got nothing - which is of course not at all what the aunt had intended. Is there anything they can do about this?

A: Unfortunately not and this sad story highlights the importance of people getting sound legal advice when they draw up a Will - and advice that caters as far as possible for ‘what-if' scenarios which may occur between the time of writing the Will and the time of their death.

In this day and age people are living longer and more and more are living out their final days in a care or nursing home. In some instances people are entitled to claim the cost of the care back from the local authority, irrespective of their means, though making a successful application for such a claim nearly always requires input from a solicitor. But any solicitor who is doing their job properly when writing a Will for a client should check and re-check that the client has considered the ‘what-ifs' that could affect their final wishes being carried out.