Posted on 19.11.15 by Tasoula Addison
Not having your final wishes carried out is a harrowing thought for most to contemplate. The ability to have the ultimate say in what happens to your most prized possessions, assets and finances when you’re not around is something that the majority of people hold close to their heart. However, making a simple administrative error whilst drafting a crucial document such a Will, can render it invalid and have huge consequences for the loved ones you leave behind.
This was the case for 74-year-old Joyce Lovelock. After caring for and living with Norman Meakin for 18 years, Joyce was not only left with a smaller share than Mr Meakin had intended, she was also left with a suspended 12 month jail sentence.
The family of Mr Meakin possessed a Will which stated that his estate should be divided between Ms Lovelock and five other relatives. However, it turned out that Mr Meakin had drafted a more recent Will, which gave Ms Lovelock a larger share of the estate, enabling her to continue living in the home she had shared.
Mistake led to Invalid Will
Although Mr Meakin had signed the ‘new Will’ detailing his most up-to-date wishes, he had failed to get two people to witness his signature and sign the document to confirm that they has seen him sign the Will: it had not been executed properly.
Upon his death Ms Lovelock got two “vulnerable, naïve people” to sign the document in an attempt to make it look like a valid Will, even though they did not see Mr Meakin sign it. Not only was this wrong, it was also illegal, despite it being what Mr Meakin wanted.
The judge commented that he believed Ms Lovelock “took advantage of their [the ‘witnesses’] good nature” because she felt “hard done by”. This was seen as corruption of the witnesses to say they had signed at the correct time, and although Ms Lovelock was adamant that she was fulfilling Mr Meakin’s wishes, she was sentenced for fraud as she would be benefitting financially from the illegal document.
Correctly witnessed or not worth the paper it’s written on
This unfortunate case highlights the absolute necessity of getting a professional to account for your final wishes and draft a proper, valid, watertight Will. As a result of Mr Meakin not properly executing his Will, his loved one was put in a position where she felt forced to commit a crime to give effect to his wishes.
Would you really want to leave the people you care about in this position?
Absolutely not. Our fantastic Wills, Trusts and Probate team will account for all your wishes, ensuring the people you truly care about will benefit from your estate. Our message is simple: ACT ON IT now and plan for your future. We have all our Wills witnessed in our offices where you also have the option of allowing us to keep your Will safe in our secure storage unit.
To get in touch today, call us on 0161 930 5151 or send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.