Protection against the “Armageddon scenario”
When preparing your Will, you should consider what you would like to happen to your estate on your death. In typical scenarios, you may wish to leave your estate to your children, grandchildren or other family members. However, what would happen to your estate if the “ultimate disaster” occurs, and you die at the same time as your beneficiaries?
If the worst happened and you and your beneficiaries passed away together, the gift would fail and your estate would pass in accordance with the Intestacy Rules. This may mean that your estate would pass to your first surviving relatives, whom you may not wish to benefit from your wealth. If you do not have any surviving relatives, your estate would ultimately pass to the Crown, and many people are not aware that this would be the case and it would not be their wish to do so.
In order to protect against this unlikely eventuality, you may wish to consider including a common tragedy or ultimate default clause within your Will. This could provide for friends to benefit from your estate, or perhaps even your preferred charity. As well as providing certainty in your Will and knowing that your estate will pass to persons or organisations of your choosing, it may also provide some positive benefit.
A well-publicised case on this scenario is the case of Mr Cousins. Mr Cousins died in 2017 in a plane crash, together with his two sons, his fiancé and her daughter. As they all passed away together, they could not benefit from the residue of his estate. However, Mr Cousins had a common tragedy clause in his Will, which took effect and Oxfam benefitted from the residue of his rather sizeable estate.
Whitehead Monckton appreciate that it is difficult to contemplate what you wish to happen in the event of your death, and our Tax and Estate Planning department are here to assist you in providing peace of mind that your affairs will be dealt with in accordance with your wishes and feelings. If you would like more information on common tragedy clauses or the Intestacy Rules, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team here.