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Married couples: individual wills need a joint approach

Date:3 SEP 2019
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The dispute over the estates of Leigh-on-Sea pensioners John and Marjorie Ann Scarle was widely reported in the media this week. Both had children from a previous marriage and the question of who inherited was dependent on which of the couple died first.

In the absence of convincing evidence either way the judge applied Section 184 of the Law of Property Act 1925 which says where one can’t determine who died first the younger is deemed to have survived. This meant that in particular the couple’s jointly owned bungalow passed momentarily by survivorship to Marjorie (who was the younger) and therefore to Marjorie’s children under her will.

A more detailed commentary on the case can be found in the blog of my colleague Kate Salter  here.

As a lawyer who prepares Wills often for couples in a second marriage the case brought a double dose of (sadly familiar) disappointment:

  • That family relationships were such that the matter couldn’t be settled by agreement: legal costs reportedly of £170 000 were run up in a dispute over a property worth less than £300 000.
  • That John...

Read the full article here.