No Will and LPA Can Lead to Breakdown of Family Relationships

03 July 2018

At Co-op Legal Services we often hear of the catastrophic consequences people suffer as a result of a family member not putting a Lasting Power of Attorney or a Will in place. If a person becomes unwell or passes away without these documents in place, this can place a huge amount of stress on their loved ones and, in some circumstances, even destroy family relationships.

One Co-op member discusses how her grandfather not having a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney in place led to a breakdown of her family relationships. She wishes to remain anonymous, so we shall refer to her as Jill.

Grandfather Died Without a Will

Jill's grandfather passed away without making a Will or putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place. This led to disagreements between family members and, ultimately, a complete breakdown of family relationships.

When Jill's grandfather died he didn't have a large Estate, meaning that the value of everything he owned when he passed away was not significant. This could have been a reason for him not making a Will. However, this decision lead to some catastrophic consequences for his family.

Before Jill's grandfather died and during his illness, family relationships had already begun to break down. There was no Lasting Power of Attorney in place, meaning no one had the legal authority to make decisions about his care or medical treatment, when he became unable to make decisions for himself. It also meant that no one could automatically step in to manage his financial affairs.

The only option was for Jill's mother to apply to the Court of Protection to be granted this legal authority. After spending a distressing amount of time and money on the Court of Protection application process Jill's mother was given the legal authority to manage the finances of her father (Jill's grandfather). Despite this, arguments continued between the other siblings as to how their father should be cared for. They could not agree on whether he should be cared for in a nursing home or at his own home, and if the latter, who should take responsibility for his care.

By the time he passed away, relationships had been soured to such a point that, heartbreakingly, Jill's mother could not bear to attend her own father's funeral.

No Will Made Everything Worse

The absence of a Will then made everything worse. As the family were already not speaking, dealing with the Estate was incredibly difficult. Nothing could be agreed on and emotions were running high.

In the years preceding his death, the grandfather had loaned a significant amount of money to various family members. There were differing opinions on whether these loans should now be repaid and included in his Estate or if they should be written off. Without a Will outlining what should happen to this money, no one could know for certain what should be done. This made it incredibly difficult to calculate how much the Estate was worth and who was entitled to what.

Tragically, the family never recovered from this ordeal and the wounds never healed. Relationships have remained soured ever since.

Jill Made a Will

Following this distressing experience and witnessing the devastating impact that not having a Will had on her family, Jill wanted to get everything in place for herself and her loved ones. Although she doesn't anticipate the same level of risk with her own Estate, this experience demonstrated to her the importance of making a Will.

Another factor that influenced her decision to make a Will was that she knew exactly where she did and did not want her wealth to go when she dies. It was important for her to set out where it went and ensure that family members who she did not want to benefit from her Estate would not.

In her Will Jill is leaving her Estate to a few family members along with some charities. By stating her wishes clearly in her Will, she can prevent her loved ones from going through an experience that she described as "A great deal of unpleasantness which soured relationships forever."

Co-op Legal Services offer fixed fees for making a Will and or Lasting Powers of Attorney. Once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work to be done, that price will not change.

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