Statutory Will - duty to notify

I am doing a Statutory Will for an elderly client who has no brothers/sisters and no children. She is married but her husband is also elderly and unwell.

The COP require a family tree showing who would inherit if she died intestate. Obviously if she died first it would be her husband but, as he is elderly/ill, the Court also want to know about what would happen if he died first.

Has anyone dealt with this type of case before? We are instructing a genealogy firm to trace the Aunts/Uncles/Cousins - the Aunts and Uncles will undoubtedly have passed now but there will likely be some cousins who she has never met or spoken of.

I am wondering whether we have a duty to notify those cousins.

Practice Direction F which supplements Part 9 of the Court of Protection Rules states that we must notify:

9© any prospective beneficiary under P’s intestacy where P has no existing Will.

The details of anyone to be notified would be inserted on the application form under the ‘Persons to be notified’. Usually then the Court issues the application and we have 14 days to make the notification and inform the Court it has been done.

Technically, the only prospective beneficiary would be her husband while she is still alive. If we notify all her cousins whom she has never met and who technically would not benefit if she would die intestate before her husband, I imagine they might all want to be involved with the proceedings in the hope of grabbing some entitlement - there will be a hearing, costs will escalate …

We will of course show those cousins in the family tree.

Jen Wiss-Carline
April King Legal

You can always ask the court for directions varying the requirement, although if the husband dies first and the proposal is the estate passes other than to those entitled on intestacy, the court would likely be unwilling to deny the potential intestate beneficiaries the opportunity to protect their interest

If there are a large number of persons who would be entitled on an intestacy, the court might be amenable to there being an appointed representative in view of their likely commonality of interest, rather than all such persons being notified and, potentially, represented individually.

Paul Saunders