You may be surprised by how many people receive a life changing amount of money from a relative they may have never even heard of. Blanchards experience daily instances of estates left that are worth hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds. Over thousands of cases, we have distributed sums of money both large and small. However, in this article we will explore some of the larger cases where beneficiaries’ lives have changes. All names have been changed for confidentiality reasons.
Betty Waters was made aware of her impending fortune in June 2019. Ms. Waters had not heard of the intestate despite them being first cousins. When informing her of the case, Ms. Waters was living in a council property for elderly residents and didn’t have much money.
The intestate was Barbera Caldwell, a highly successful sex therapist who lived not 15 minutes from her cousin Betty. She owned 2 properties and was sitting on a considerable amount of wealth at the time of her death. As the sole beneficiary, Betty Waters inherited £600,000 from her late cousin. Although she was very old when inheriting, her life and the life of her family changed dramatically.
This case is a cautionary tale of why separated couples need to divorce. Fiona and her husband had been separated for over 10 years. When she passed, her children assumed they would be the ones to inherit their mother’s estate. However, because she never divorced her husband, their stepfather, Mr Gill became the sole beneficiary. Under the laws of intestacy, a spouse is the highest line of entitlement, and they were still legally married.
While going through the inheritance process, Mr. Gill suddenly passed away. As he passed after Fiona Gill he was still set to benefit from her estate. However, now his children would inherit from his estate. This means that through their father, the Gill children essentially inherited Fiona’s estate.
The fallout from this revelation was dramatic to say the least. Fiona’s children were understandably aghast that their step siblings would inherit their mother’s estate over them. Even more so, because the Gill children had only met Fiona a handful of times over a decade prior. The three Gill Siblings inherited £70,000 each, and Fiona’s children were left with nothing.
Sam McDuff and his brother, Jack, were very close growing up. Jack moved to the U.S almost years ago and from there the brothers unintentionally drifted apart. We informed Sam that his brother passed away in June 2020. Despite not having regular contact for several years, Sam was deeply upset to learn of his brothers passing. Due to Jack never marrying or having children his brother was the nearest next of kin. At the time of his passing Jack was a reasonably wealthy man with most of his estate being his property. Moreover, Jack had possession of the trainset he and his brother played with when they were children. Due to its age and excellent condition, the train set was deemed “highly valuable”. Despite this Sam refuses to sell or put it up for auction due to its sentimental value. After the process Sam inherited just over £300,000 not including the train set.
Kate Heap was born in Germany and died in Italy. Despite this, she was a British citizen. Ms. Heap owned properties across London and Italy, creating a grand estate worth just under a million pounds. With such a grand estate you would believe a Will would be present… and that was the case. However, the Will was not signed by Ms. Heap resulting in the Will being classed as void in the eyes of the courts. making this a case of intestacy.
This case took a considerable amount of time to work on. Blanchards had to follow German lines and use German records which are scarce compared to the UK. German intestacy laws work different from the UK also. In Germany, beneficiaries to an estate also inherit any remaining debts of the intestate. Naturally, this makes Germans far more hesitant to sign up than the usual beneficiaries we are accustomed to. This was strengthened by the fact they had never met or heard of a Kate Heap, despite the relation. Therefore, the case took much longer compared to regular cases of intestacy. The 3 Italian brothers split the fortune between them. They mentioned the likelihood of investing in property to multiply their newfound wealth.
Blanchards have worked on countless high value cases and will continue to do so in the future. Stay tuned for more intestacy stories.