Who died first?

We reported previously on the sad case of the elderly couple who died in their home of hypothermia. Each of them had children from previous relationships and it was necessary for the High Court to decide which of the step-children was deemed to inherit first as there was no clear evidence as to the order of death of the couple.

The case was decided based upon a provision in the Law of Property Act 1925 which states that if is not possible to determine who died first, death is presumed to have occurred in order of seniority and accordingly the younger is deemed to have survived the elder.

To highlight the rarity of the facts, a case referring to two brothers who had been killed in an air raid during the Blitz was referred to! The High Court saw no reason to depart from the presumption that the younger partner survived the elder.

In a sense, which stepsister inherited the estate is not of relevance to most people because this sad situation is one which will occur so rarely. However, as we continually remind readers, the importance of making a will to avoid such situations cannot be overstated.

To discuss this or any other private client matter, contact us.