Having an up to date will is especially important for couples and cohabitants who have children from different relationships, as this can complicate matters when you die.

This issue has recently been highlighted in the case of Scarle v Scarle. This case concerned an inheritance dispute between two stepsisters to determine which of their parents died first.

In this instance, Mr & Mrs Scarle were found dead in their home and it was unclear as to which of them had died first.

This was significant as the couple held their home as joint tenants and they also held a joint bank account.

Property that is jointly held passes by survivorship. This means that whoever died last, would be entitled to inherit the whole house and the sums in their joint account.

Section 184 of the Law of Property Act creates a presumption that death occurred in order of seniority when it is unclear which party died first. This rule was upheld by the courts and it was presumed that Mrs Scarle survived her husband as she was younger. The jointly held property subsequently passed to her and to then to her children.

This case highlights the importance of creating a will so as to ensure your wishes are followed and both parties children are provided for. This case also shows the importance of considering the way in which you own your property.

At Ison Harrison we offer free half hour consultations to discuss your circumstances and can advise on the most effective way to leave your property to your loved ones. This can be done through simple wills, or through changing the way in which you own your home and your wills to ensure that children from both relationships are protected in the event of your death.

If you would like further advice or information, please email or telephone our wills, tax & estate planning team on 01904 917 980 or email Jessica.bourke@isonharrison.co.uk

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