Jim Sawer answers a question in This is Money on what happens when there is insufficient money in an estate to meet all the legacies

31 October 2019

Jim Sawer, partner in our private client team, writes in This is Money, answering the question: Our relative split her estate between her home and cash but care home fees ate up her savings, so who gets what?

Jim comments that this question concerns the legal concept of 'abatement'; what happens when there's insufficient money in the estate to meet all the legacies.

I'd need to see the will to see whether it prioritises the respective gifts of property and money.

But if it doesn't, then the law says that funeral expenses and debts get paid out of the residue first, then out of 'general' gifts, which include gifts of cash. 

Only after the residue and cash gifts are exhausted will the recipients of 'specific' gifts of, say, property need to meet the balance."

Jim makes the point that:

Solicitors who draft wills normally encourage clients to think of their estate, not in terms of assets and bank accounts that need to be dealt with on an individual basis but, rather, as one big pot of value to be divided up accordingly."

He also warns of the importance of taking professional advice.

You can read Jim's' full answer in This is Money here.

Further information

For more information on the issues raised and other inheritance planning  opportunities, please contact a member of our private client team.

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