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Lost Wills cause Heartbreak

The last wishes of s o l d i e r s killed in Afghanistan are not being honoured as the Ministry of Defence have lost their Wills, with heartbreaking consequences. Servicemen and women who wish to make a Will before they are deployed on active service are given the opportunity to fill in a Ministry of Defence Will form which is then placed in a sealed envelope. After logging this with the individuals unit it is sent to Glasgow to a central document handling centre. Corporal Rob Deering was killed by the Taliban in December 2008. His fiancé is now battling to save the house they shared after the MoD lost a Will he produced just weeks before being deployed. While preparing to leave Corporal Deering was asked to produce the document twice after the first copy was lost. Now the second copy cannot be found a previous Will made in 2006 is being used for probate. The earlier Will effectively leaves his share of the family home to his sister who is asking that it is sold. Relationships with his family have broken down over the missing Will and his grieving fiancé is now taking legal action to delay the distribution of the estate to allow the MoD more time to find the missing document. In a similar case the fiancé of Marine Neil Dunstan was left fighting for the home they bought together after his Will could not be found. She later received an apology when it was found in a drawer. The heartbreaking consequence of the Will being ‘lost’ was that she was not allowed to walk behind his coffin at the military funeral as there was nothing to prove she was his next of kin Since 2005 there have been 15 complaints regarding missing Wills and they are currently searching for five missing Wills belonging to Marines killed in active duty. The missing Wills have sparked calls for a full enquiry and one MP has accused the Government of ‘bureaucrat ic incompetence bordering on cruelty’ and failing in its duty to soldiers even after they have paid the ultimate sacrifice. In the meantime Corporal Deering’s fiancé continues her battle to save their home. Reforms to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 recommended two years ago to include an avenue of claim for cohabitants might help her in her efforts but the Ministry of Justice say that any action will have to wait on Scotland to enact any changes. For those of you who have clients in the military it is worth advising them to ensure they have documents drawn up to protect their loved ones and ensure they are stored securely, not relying on the Ministry of Defence to ensure their wishes are carried out.

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