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Finding Alice strikes chord with viewers

8th February 2021

Finding Alice strikes chord with viewers

A similar scenario to a storyline in a new ITV drama is regularly played out in everyday life, says Georgia Stott, a Solicitor in the Higgs & Sons Dispute Resolution Team.

While ITV’s new Sunday night drama Finding Alice is providing lockdown entertainment for many, the plot opens up a scenario which is very familiar to those, like me, working in Contentious Trusts and Probate.

A quick summary of the storyline: Harry, the partner of the main character Alice, dies after falling down the stairs at home. He didn’t have a will in place.

They weren’t married and – due to be what appears to be financial concerns for Harry’s business – the home was placed in the name of his parents.

Seemingly facing a large inheritance tax bill given the timing of the gift prior to Harry’s death, the parents need to sell the property to clear the bill, potentially leaving Alice and her daughter homeless.

To further muddy the waters, a fortnight before his death, Harry learned that he had a son that he previously didn’t know about.  Given Harry died unmarried and intestate, the son is entitled to 50 per cent of his estate.

We also know that the assets of the business – which doesn’t appear to be terribly successful – have been put into the name of Alice, who only has a small part-time job with minimal income.

Bank accounts have, as of yet, not been accessed due to probate not being granted, a very common problem, which only adds to the difficulties faced following the death of a loved one.

The main three questions arising from this scenario are:

  • Could Harry have done anything additional prior to his accident to make life easier for his family in the aftermath?
  • Can Alice reach an agreement with her daughter and Harry’s son to enable her to inherit instead of them?
  • If no agreement can be reached, is there anything else Alice can do to ensure some security for herself?

In short, this situation would clearly have far greater clarity if Harry had made a will. Many of the tensions which are arising would at least have had some direct answers had a will existed.

Without that will, the need for Alice to reach an agreement – which importantly should be formalised – is greater than ever. Otherwise, she could be in the position of having to make a claim against the estate to try and secure some income, or capital, for herself.

That agreement would  be with her daughter and Harry’s son but may also need to include  Harry’s parents, due to the property being registered in their names.

I will take great interest over the coming Sunday nights to see the outcome but this is a scenario many people find themselves in real life.

Should you be in a similar situation to Alice and are seeking advice, please feel free to contact me on Georgia.stott@higgsandsons.co.uk or 01384 327117.

 

 

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