We have been acting for the executors of a delightful sounding bachelor, who died at a good age. The gentleman had lots of friends and was well loved. He wanted to remember all his friends and relatives in his Will. The result was an enormously complicated Will (not written by us!) There were 160 beneficiaries. The situation was made more difficult because:
Some of the beneficiaries were referred to in the Will as a group of people to be paid a sum to have a meal to celebrate his departure, and he kept a separate list of who they were. He changed the list regularly as people died, he thought of new people etc. The executors found various lists and it was tricky for them to decide who was in/who was out, and which was the most recent. Some had died. Up to date contact details were not available for all – especially problematic where individuals did not live in the UK. It was a massive job for the executors to work out who should benefit, then make contact with them and collect current addresses. Each received a fairly nominal amount to pay for a nice meal;
The executors were required to hold a party at the deceased’s home for neighbours with whom he was on very good terms. This just added to the work to do, and the executors told us it was a slightly strange occasion as the main man could obviously not attend.
The remaining beneficiaries all shared in the residuary estate. In other words, they didn’t get fixed amounts, they shared in the total left after all tax and debts were paid, the house was sold and all other assets realised. Inevitably this takes a long time to calculate, especially when it is necessary to wait for HMRC clearance, which takes many months;
Few people received the same share of the estate, so the calculation was challenging;
The payments are about to go out. Since some of the amounts are quite small I sincerely hope everyone will present their cheques (and they are all still alive to do this). Otherwise we will have money left in the estate, and more decisions about what to do with it.
Three months before he died the gentleman decided to revise his will further. At the time of his (sudden) death, due to procrastination on the part of the solicitor preparing the revised will, it was ready for signature, but had not been signed. This meant that the executors had to execute the will which the deceased no longer wanted to be valid. If you decide to change your will, do not delay – you never know what might happen to you.
Very luckily one of the executors is a delightful, diligent accountant who was prepared to put in masses of time and effort making sure the gentleman (her uncle’s) wishes were fulfilled. Both executors deserve an award.
The moral – try to keep your Will simple!