Pictons Takes On The Case of Hemel Hempstead Man Who Left £750,000 Without A Will

Although there is a lot of information out there about protecting your hard earned assets when you are alive, it is surprising that so little publicity is given to the importance of making a Will so that your assets are distributed according to your wishes when you die.

Leading local law firm Pictons, which also has offices in Tring, Milton Keynes and Luton, has a number of specialists who deal with clients on Wills and the administration of the estates of people who have passed away. Although you can now get anything online, there are so many dangers involved in buying a will off the internet that it’s always best to ensure that it will work and do what you intend when you are no longer here.

Three years ago Pictons took on an extraordinary case of a 75 year old Hemel Hempstead man, John Floyd, who had lived all of his life in the Marlowes district. When John died intestate (without a Will) it turned out that he had acquired considerable assets which totalled over £750,000. He didn’t have any immediate relatives, he had never married, had no children, grandchildren or brothers and sisters. Without a Will his assets would have passed to the state unless relatives could be found.

John King, a Partner at Pictons and Head of the Wills Trust and Probate Team recalls “We learned virtually nothing about Mr Floyd’s background and even though we’ve worked on the case for over three years he clearly led a very private life. Even tracing all his assets proved difficult, including 16 separate bank accounts, various shareholdings and the other investments he had made. The total sum that was ultimately available after any outstanding debts and inheritance tax was paid was just under £500,000, but tracing the assets was only a small part of the story.”

With John Floyd not having made a Will nor having any close relatives, Pictons had to undertake extensive and complicated detective work to discover all his relatives and therefore who would be entitled to a share of his wealth.

John continues “It turned out that Mr Floyd was an only child, both his parents had died as had all of his eight uncles and aunts – three on his father’s side and five on his mother’s. The search for their children, or in some cases their children’s children took us around the world. One of his aunts had died leaving four children, each of whom had children. Some of those had also died and when all of the surviving relatives of that one aunt alone were traced, they numbered 22!”

“Ultimately 39 beneficiaries were traced who were all entitled to a share in Mr Floyd’s estate. There were 31 on his mother’s side and just seven on his father’s. We discovered distant relatives and cousins from the extended family in the UK, Europe, the USA and Australia and most of them didn’t know of the existence of Mr Floyd. It turned out that Mr Floyd had never met any of his uncles, aunts or cousins on his mother’s side at all.

“Of the 39 beneficiaries, because of the intestacy rules, they did not all inherit the same amount. Some received as much as £67,000 others as little as £900. Not only was this one of the most complicated cases we have had to deal with in terms of tracing beneficiaries, it was also one of the saddest. John Floyd’s substantial wealth was inherited almost entirely by people who he did not know and who did not know him.”