Recently at Emmersons Solicitors, we have had a number of cases where distant relatives contact us having been informed by the authorities that their cousin, great aunt, etc has died. It is clear to me that huge numbers of people now live alone. Many of our clients, who instruct us to make a will, have no relatives that they see on a regular basis. This may be for a number of reasons; our client is an only child, never married and did not have children. Clients who are gay and whose families ostracised them because of this. Another common occurrence is men who have worked in the merchant navy all of their lives, they have never really settled in one place.
The one thing that all of these people have in common, when they visit us to make a will, is that they wish to be quite specific as to who will inherit their estate. For some that will be the person they live with, even if they are not married to that person. For the gay client who has been treated badly by their own family this is very important.
It could be friends who regularly support our client, the person who has them over for Christmas lunch when ev-eryone else is too busy. The friend that is there to help take them to hospital, or visit them in hospital.
I had a very dear friend and was storing documents at our office on their behalf. I rang them to point out that we didn’t seem to be storing a will. “No” they said, “I haven’t made one. My only sister has dementia, as you know I don’t have any other close relatives. I have a distant cousin but can’t stand him and I do not like the family that my sister has married into. If I leave my estate to my sister it is highly likely that upon her death her husband will inherit and thereafter his family. Instead I’d like to leave my estate to those people who come to my home every week and help me. They are very kind”.
Well, unexpectedly my friend died one week after this conversation. As he had predicted, his estate went to his sister because that was his next of kin. She died a few months later and everything passed to her husband. He died eighteen months after that and of course the much despised family members who my friend could not abide, inherited all of my friend’s money!
Or what about the case of a gay client who lived with his partner for a number of years. One night the partner was killed in a car crash. Our client was devastated. Before long his boyfriend’s family turned up from Scotland and said that he had to get out of the house. Of course the house was in his boyfriends sole name, the deceased had never told his family he was gay and the family refused to believe our client, they accused him of being a thief.
These might seem like shocking or unusual tales to you. However, these are the sort of cases that we deal with every day at Emmersons Solicitors.
How can you ensure that your estate ends up in the right hands?
Making a will is an obvious answer. You might wish to leave small amounts of money to a kindly neighbour, you may wish to benefit your local church if it has offered you sup-port, you may wish to leave it all to charity, you may wish to leave it to your partner whether or not you live together. The question is, do you want your estate to go to your next of kin? That could be a person you have never even met. It could be someone who lives nearby but who has not kept in touch.
If you don’t actually have any relatives still living then ultimately the government benefits from your life’s work and your life’s savings. Imagine your hard earned cash being used to build a roundabout!
If you would like a FREE REVIEW OF YOUR EXISTING WILL or simply wish to consider your options then contact us on 0191 2846989
From 27 June 2016 our Gosforth office is lo-cated at 137A Back High Street NE3 4ET-call in and see us at any time. We have wheelchair ac-cess, you can be dropped off at our front door and there is free parking on adjoining streets.

How the mitie have fallen

I read in the Financial Times this morning, whilst sitting in Willi’s cafe in Jesmond, that Mitie had issued a profits warning. This is no surprise. I know Mitie only because I visit Courts and I see their staff cleaning the buildings. The article explained that the company employed a large number of minimum wage earners, it’s CEO was a peer and that shareholders would be worried.

I asked myself: why is a company paying so many people at NMW rates? How come the person in charge is a Tory peer? Why are shareholders benefitting out of Government contracts?

If people are paid more than the NMW will that not mean that money filters up through the economy? Won’t the State be subsidising what it is already paying for through working family tax credits? Wouldn’t the profits paid to shareholders be better spent on workers’ wages and on improving the service offered?

But it’s not just Court cleaning that is outsourced. Prisons are outsourced. HMP Northumberland is in a mess. A complete mess. It’s run by a French company and its in a mess with prisoners locked up 23 hours and the smoking of spice and other drugs rife amongst the inmates. The Lord Chancellor Liz Truss talks about prison reform but this Government and the coalition before it starved the Justice system of cash and resources by making so many people redundant.

There aren’t enough Probation Officers, Police officers or support staff, court and tribunal staff, court sitting days, crown prosecutors and support staff. Trials are still delayed or cracked far too often causing delay and a justice deficit which can’t be justified.

No-one of influence will speak out and instead talk about more efficiencies through information technology and the better use of resources. It’s a huge Emperor’s Parade with all sorts of people falling over each other to tell the Ministry of Justice how marvellous everything is. Well, if anyone could be bothered to visit a Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court and talk to the people who work there-as opposed to the people who mange the people who work there-then they’d find out the truth.

The system is in a mess. Who cares?