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When William Herd died he left £300,000 but his only son never saw a penny: Why you must write a Will

We’re sure you were as equally shocked as we were to hear about this case today. Stuart Herd’s widowed father, William, remarried at 67. His son Stuart was delighted as he’d feared his father would live out the rest of his days alone, after the death of his wife, Freda, in 1986.

But, two years later, William had met Dorothy on a dating website, and they married in a quiet ceremony at a register office in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.

It was a happy day - but little did Stuart realise it would lead to a bitter feud over his inheritance. For Stuart says he has not received a penny of his father’s £300,000 estate - instead, everything has ended up with Dorothy’s son.

And it’s all because of the type of will William drew up, and changes that Dorothy made to hers after William’s death.

Stuart, 63, an accountant from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, says: ‘My father was a very trusting person. He thought the world of my daughter - his only granddaughter.

He would never have wanted her not to be provided for. We are a traditional family. All of my grandparents’ estate passed to my parents. So Dorothy’s family not only have her money and my father’s money - but also that of my grandparents.’

Before William passed away in 1997, he explained that he and Dorothy had drawn up mirror wills. This meant that, when one of them died, everything would pass to the surviving spouse.

The wills stated that, after both died, the estate would be divided equally between William’s son, Stuart, and Dorothy’s son from a previous marriage.

But after Dorothy died in July 2012, Stuart discovered that she had changed her will to leave everything to her son - leaving him with nothing.

Stuart says he was told by solicitors that Dorothy had changed her will because she’d not heard from him in years. He disputes this. He says he has begged Dorothy’s family to share the inheritance. But so far they have not done so.

‘It was a complete shock,’ says Stuart. ‘I only met her family once, at my father’s funeral, but Dorothy and I never had any cross words.

‘I hope this will act as a warning to others - you have to be so careful with mirror wills, as they depend on the surviving spouse honouring their wishes.’ Money Mail was unable to contact Dorothy’s family.

What do you think of the outcome? Do you think there is enough guidance out there on how to make a will? It is not surprising that there are hundreds of rows over wills every day and how sometimes loved ones can sometimes end up with absolutely nothing. It’s so important to understand then when a significant life event occurs then the will must be amended accordingly.