How Darby and Joan's Children lost out on their inheritance.

Darby and Joan owned their home jointly, which was worth £500,000, and had  further modest investments. Their Wills left their assets to each other and, on the  second death, to their two children. When Joan died all her estate passed to Darby.

Shortly after Joan’s death, Darby went into residential care.  Because his assets were over £23,500 he had to pay the full cost of his care and on his death his assets were in the region of £15,000.

His children inherited very little compared to what they would have received had he not gone into residential care.

How could Darby and Joan have protected their children’s inheritance?

A Property Preservation Trust in each Will would have protected the children’s inheritance against the consequences of Darby going into residential care.

On Joan’s death, her Will leaves her share of the property to the children ‘in Trust’, although Darby has the right to stay in the property for the remainder of his life. On his death, their children would inherit Joan’s half of the property which is held in the trust as this would not pass to Darby.

Had Darby needed to go into residential care, half of the property would already be in trust for the children following Joan’s death and therefore safe from being used to pay the nursing home fees. 

This type of trust is also suitable for people who are concerned about second marriages where the family assets are at risk of not being left to the children of the first marriage.

However, it is vital that anyone seeking to protect their assets in this type of situation gets proper legal advice from a specialist firm of solicitors. There are many schemes and arrangements which unqualified advisers claim to be effective but are in fact ruled to be scams when scrutinised by the Local Authority.

Jayne Parsons is Head of Estate Planning at BHW Solicitors in Leicester and regularly writes on estate planning issues. Jayne can be contacted on 0116 2816238 or

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