In the UK, over 30 million people are at risk of dying without a will. Here, we see the tragic consequences of leaving your loved ones unprotected.
On Thursday 20th February, Amanda Clarke left Farewill a five-star review with the title: “One of the best things I’ve ever done to protect my family”. She then went on to explain why…
Eight days earlier, Amanda’s ex-husband died without a will, causing a shocking saga of family arguments and in-fighting. After witnessing the consequences of dying without a will first hand, Amanda decided to make one as a matter of urgency.
Inspired by the honesty of her review and the heartbreaking situation she found herself in, I got in touch to find out more.
Tell me a little bit about your ex-husband
“My ex-husband gave me the most precious gift – our daughter. He was a mariner his whole life. He was employed. He sailed. He travelled. He rode a 1200 Bandit and BMW motorbike. He had an amazing, unique sense of humour. He absolutely loved life.
“Then he was cut down by illness and died within 10 days of diagnosis. And by not making a will, he has left our child financially exposed and a witness to family infighting.”
What was your first thought when you realised your ex-husband didn’t make a will?
“I only realised that my ex-husband hadn’t made a will when my daughter told me there had been an argument at his bedside regarding his death in service life assurance.
“To add some context, I had been called on Friday 7th February by my ex-husband’s daughter (from a previous marriage) to be informed that he was not expected to survive the weekend.
“When my daughter, who is 13 years old, arrived at the hospital on Saturday 8th February, my ex-husband’s family informed me that I was not allowed to see him. As I was trying to protect my daughter, I remained in the entrance of the hospital for eight hours while she was taken to visit.
“On Sunday 9th February, my daughter informed me that there had been an argument at my ex-husband’s bedside. This came after his girlfriend stated she was the named beneficiary of his death in service policy and that she was going to book a luxury holiday.
“My ex-husband’s two adult children were both very angry, and one of them asked for time alone with her father – during which she allegedly helped him make his will. At the time, he was receiving high doses of diamorphine, antiemetics and midazolam via a syringe driver.
“During the hospital visits, I was honestly too shocked and concerned about my daughter to worry about anything else. When she told me about the in-fighting while he was dying, I was appalled.”
How do you think your ex-husband would feel about everything that’s happened regarding his estate?
“The Sunday following my ex-husband’s death, his adult daughter called my daughter to say that she had been to his house – with goodness knows who else – and again there had been arguments between the family and my ex’s girlfriend over his possessions. As far as I’m aware, the house was emptied. This included documents pertaining to my daughter.
“I think the whole situation would make my ex-husband very sad. Although we had divorced, we did speak to each other about our daughter and, up to the point that he was able, he did keep in touch with me via WhatsApp. I will never know if he truly did not wish to see me.
“My ex-husband died in the early hours of Wednesday 12th February and, right up until Sunday 9th February, he believed he could be treated. I do not believe he considered the impact that dying without a will could have on our daughter.”
Before your ex-husband died, had you ever thought about making a will?
“I had attempted to make a will previously through a solicitor. I paid and attended two appointments. I believed my wishes were fairly straightforward, but the solicitor kept raising points to change and ‘what if’ questions. I reached a bill of £225 and had to stop – so it was never completed.
“After my ex-husband died, I was extremely concerned about my daughter in the event of my death.”
How did you feel after getting your own will sorted?
“After ‘girding my loins’ and deciding making a will really was a matter of urgency, I did some online research. Farewill flagged up with a five-star rating, so I visited the site.
“I couldn’t believe how easy, quick and affordable it was. Once it was checked and sent back, I signed and had it witnessed. I felt physically lighter. I have now protected my daughter. Besides loving her, believing in her, and giving her wings to fly one day, this is the single best thing I can do to protect her.”
What advice would you give to the 30 million people in the UK who haven’t written a will?
“If my ex-husband had made a will, there would have been no fighting by his bedside as he died. Everyone would know his wishes and could have focused on what’s important.
“I would not be left with the dilemma of whether to fight legally for my daughter’s entitlement as a dependent child, effectively alienating her from her father’s family for all time, or not fight and deprive her of what is rightfully hers.
“No-one thinks this will happen. I certainly did not. It makes you feel physically sick. My ex-husband was worth so much more than people squabbling about money and ‘stuff’ as he was dying. And I know that he would not have wanted to leave his only dependent daughter with nothing.
“And what does it take to avoid all this? 15-20 minutes, £90 and, in my case, 24 hours to get the will checked.”