John, Mark and Keith - Wills, Intestacy and Deeds of Variation

Let me tell you about John.
Last week, I was called to see John as a matter of urgency. I was told that he was nearing the end of life and wanted to put his affairs in order. Three weeks ago, he had wanted to see me but understandably, his lifetime companion Mark hadn’t wanted to trouble me, hoping John would make a miraculous recovery.
When I arrived, I could see John was very frail and bed bound. I spent time with him, to put him at his ease. He was tired, he whispered that he wished to make a Will and said that he wanted to leave his possessions to... but then he fell asleep. The effort had been exhausting.
I waited, when he woke, I asked if he’d like to tell me who he wanted to look after things and receive his worldly goods and savings after he had gone. I gave him time and space to make and convey his wishes. It was too much for John.
Sadly, John could not make a Will. It had been left too late, although I understood he wanted to make a Will, he simply didn’t have the energy to give me instructions.
Afterwards, I spent some time talking to Mark, a kind and caring man. I can understand why he didn’t call me out three weeks ago, it would have seemed like an acceptance of his companion's imminent demise. He didn't want to accept that the man he had loved since the age of 21 was dying, they had lived for so long as a unit yet forced to live in the shadows through less understanding and tolerant times.
Mark called me three days later to say that John had passed away peacefully, they had been together at the home they had shared for 47 years.
John had never made a Will, John and Mark had never married nor civil partnered, they had been together for so long when the law changed that they didn’t see the need for society’s seal of approval.
John died leaving no spouse, no civil partner, no children, no parents, one sister Anne who predeceased him leaving one child, Keith. Anne had judged and ostracised John long before Keith's birth. The law of intestacy meant that John's nephew Keith inherited the whole estate.
Mark was facing not only the loss of John, but either financial hardship or litigation. Thankfully, Keith was kind and compassionate. He was shocked and appalled about his mum’s attitude, so alien to his own. He contacted Mark, they became friends.
Keith understood that although he was legally entitled to inherit John’s estate, he appreciated the moral context and sought legal advice.
Keith made a Deed of Variation, a legal document that diverts a legacy from the legal beneficiary to someone else and acting as a posthumous Will. It meant that Mark could carry on living in the house and had financial security. Keith knew that he had done the right thing.


Naomi Pinder

Solicitor Wills and Probate Department at MG Legal


Naomi joined MG Legal’s team in May 2023 working in the Wills and Probate Department, advising clients on all aspects of estate and future planning, for younger and older clients alike. 

Naomi has a breadth of knowledge about all areas Private-Client-law-related, with over 35 years' experience assisting clients with these matters, and can draft your Will, help you make Lasting Powers of Attorney, and even deal with your loved one's estate after their passing, with an efficient, yet personal, service. 

Naomi is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly, and therefore has satisfied requirements to ensure she is equipped to help with your matter, with additional experience and training acquired through her membership. 

From small beginnings 13 years ago, MG Legal are now a leading law firm based in central Lancashire, with offices in the picturesque towns of Garstang and Longridge, Lancashire’s beautiful capital city, Lancaster, and the stunning Lytham. As specialists in Property Law (Residential and Commercial), Personal Injury compensation claims, Medical Negligence compensation claims, and Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Probate, if you chose to instruct MG Legal, then our team is on hand to provide you with an excellent service, with legal costs unprecedented for the first-class legal representation you will receive.