Legal Hypothetical

DONALD and Nancy were both divorcees when they met on a moonlit beach.

Their relationship blossomed and they were soon married.

They decided to purchase a house together overlooking ‘their’ beach. Both Donald and Nancy had children from their previous marriages.

Later in life, Nancy was diagnosed with dementia.

Nancy’s doctor encouraged her to get her affairs in order before she lost capacity.

Nancy used a home will kit to detail her intentions.

She decided to leave $100,000 to Donald and her half of their house to her children.

After a few years, Nancy had lost capacity and now resided in a nursing home.

Donald then decided to see a solicitor to get his estate planning affairs in order.

Donald’s solicitor informed him that if Nancy died first, Donald would inherit $100,000 and he would become the sole owner of the house as it was owned as joint tenants.

Regardless of Nancy’s intention to give half of the house to her children, the house was not her sole asset to give.

Donald, being a generous man, instructed his solicitor to take Nancy’s intentions into account and provide a solution.

It was then decided that the joint tenancy would be severed so that the property would be owned by Donald and Nancy as tenants in common.

This meant that Donald and Nancy each owned 50 percent of the property.

The effect of this being that Donald and Nancy’s children would inherit their portion of the house, rather than it being transferred to the surviving spouse.

If Donald had not sought legal advice, he would have left his estate to his children only, with the effect that if Nancy dies first, her children would not have received any benefit.

Alternatively, if Donald dies before Nancy, his children would not benefit if the property was still owned as joint tenants.

Thank you to Anthony Fogarty for his assistance with this column. Email Manny Wood, Principal Solicitor at TB Law at or call him on (02) 66 487 487.

By Manny WOOD, Solicitor

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