The Importance of Updating Your Will
Posted on 11th March 2021 at 22:24
This is the case of a small Kerry farmer, he farmed 38 acres and was a member of Kerry Co-op, from its inception in 1973. He lived in a small four-roomed cottage, which did not have running water until well into his old age and instead of using a cooker, he preferred to cook his potatoes over the hearth. He never married and was a member of a large family all of whom are quite attached to each other.
In 1990, he made his Will and in it he left the farm and his shares in Kerry Co-op (as he specifically described them) to his nephew. Subsequently, Kerry Co-op transformed itself into the Kerry Group and its members shares were from time to time and transferred into Kerry Group shares.
At the time of making his Will he had 1,400 shares in the Kerry Co-op. At the time of his death, these had been transferred into 390 Kerry Co-op shares and 8,900 shares in the Kerry Group. At the time of hearing the case, the value of the Kerry Co-op shares was €272,000 and the value of the Kerry Group shares was €1,000,000. He also had €80,000 in the Bank.
The question which arose at trial was whether the Kerry Group shares, having been transformed from the Kerry Co-op shares, without any input whatsoever from him, formed part of the bequest of the Kerry Co-op shares or were they an entirely separate bequest.
If they were separate, part of them would fall into the residue of his estate, which he left to his surviving brothers and sisters. Part would become a distribution on intestacy, as he had made no provision as to what would happen, if any of his brothers and sisters died before him. Evidence was given in court, that he had told his nephew, he would get all his Kerry shares but he never changed his Will.
The court held that the formation of the Kerry Group and the assumption of the Kerry Co-op shares into Kerry Group shares created a completely new entity. It did not form part of the original bequest. Some of the Kerry Group shares became part of the residue to his surviving brothers and sisters and the rest were paid out according to the rules on intestacy.
This case shows the importance of regularly reviewing your Will and making sure that the bequests you left still represent your wishes. Bank accounts change, companies change and beneficiaries change. It is essential that your Will should change accordingly.
If the farmer had left his Kerry shares to his nephew, leaving out the word Co-op, his nephew would have inherited the entire, even though the Kerry group did not exist in 1990.
So check your Wills carefully. Oh! And be nice to those bachelor uncles.
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