2022 wasn’t shy in providing us with interesting cases. With growth comes our success rate with landing cases and this doesn’t discriminate, offering both simple cases and of course more complex and outright strange estates.
On the surface this case seemed to be a simple low value estate with nothing noteworthy to mention. The intestate passed away in his council property with his sibling set to inherit. Upon an asset search, we discovered the intestate had an account with Fidelity and Hargreaves Lansdown, international financial service corporations. The intestate had shares in numerous companies amassing a combined value of 1.1 million pounds. We do not know if he was aware his stocks had grown to such an astronomical value. His living condition and way of life did not represent his wealth, with him remaining in council properties. His siblings were understandably surprised by this turn of events. Expecting nothing and instead receiving life changing sums of money each.
Eaten by dogs
We deal with numerous probate properties across the country in need of a full house clearance. One of which was referred to us by a council after the owner passed in the property. He had no one who cared for him, so his body remained in the house for some time until he was discovered. However, he was not truly alone. He was succeeded by his 3 German Shepherds that were still in the property when the intestate was found. We later learned that after he passed, the intestate was eaten by his 3 dogs (likely from hunger and desperation) with body parts also being removed and left around the home. Ironically, our intestate was such an avid dog lover he left his entire estate to Dogs Trust. Dogs Trust took ownership for his German Shepherds so in a strange turn of events it’s as if he left his estate to his beloved dogs.
Both Blanchards and our sister company PPS are well acquainted with hoarder houses. Probate properties and hoarder houses tend to go hand in hand. Whether this is psychological or the fact they have no close family and struggle with the upkeep of their property is unknown. We just know that many of the probate properties we deal with are formerly owned by extreme hoarders.
In one such case our clearance team had to use a ladder and climb through the top story window to access the property. All other entrances were completely barricaded and blocked by the sheer amount of clutter as a result of extensive hoarding. A large bulk of clutter was from phone exchange equipment and switchboards. We learned the intestate had plans to start a phone exchange business, decades prior but never got rid of the equipment after that didn’t materialize. However, switchboards were not the most memorable aspect of this hoarder house. Along with assorted trash and items you wouldn’t dream of keeping were the mummified bodies of his cats through the years. The cat carcasses were shelved a top one another sometimes wrapped in newspaper. The state of the bodies suggested they had been dead for a number of years. In fact the only space in the house that wasn’t loaded with clutter was an arm chair next to the mummified cats.
Surprise inheritances are a regular occurrence for Blanchards. In fact the nature of our business means most cases tend to be a surprise to the beneficiary. We often have cases worth hundreds of thousands being distributed among a handful of heirs who didn’t even know the intestate. For instance, one lady was set to inherit 500k, being the sole beneficiary to the estate. Whilst growing up she became estranged from her Mother not seeing her for a number of years and wasn’t even aware her brother had passed away, leaving her to inherit her uncles estate. However, more was hidden because of this estrangement. The beneficiaries Mother had a number of other children after she lost contact with her daughter. This means the daughter was no longer a sole beneficiary but instead had to share the estate with her siblings she didn’t even know existed. The 500k was evenly split among the siblings. Though her inheritance was far smaller than initially thought, she did form a relationship with her new siblings. Who could put a price on that?