The Strange Case of Vincent Brown. 

“The Strange Case of Vincent Brown” was the subject of a recent talk to Largs PROBUS Club by Solicitor Peter Eager. Vincent had died unmarried and had no brothers, sisters or children. He died in his sleep in 2009, alone in his house apart from his two dogs. Because his absence was not immediately noticed, his dogs ate his hand and part of his arm.

Peter was his solicitor and wound up his estate. He had three tasks. The first was to find his Will if any. The second was to identify his nearest relatives, if he left no Will.  The third was to determine if his girlfriend had a claim on his estate, if he left no Will.

His house was a mess. It also contained some unusual items. He slept on a water bed and had a room devoted to slot machines. He had paperwork everywhere. After sifting through it, Peter concluded there was no Will, so his estate would go to his nearest relatives. He became aware of a second cousin and authorised a search by a genealogist to see if there were other relatives. It turned out that the second cousin had a brother and a sister of whom she had never heard.

Turning now to the girlfriend, it appeared that she and Vincent led separate lives. He had his house and she had hers. New legislation had been passed in 2006 which basically tried to bring the rights of unmarried couples into line with married couples. In the case of a death, however, the law only applied if the person died leaving no Will. If there was a Will, that governed the situation. In this case, there was no Will, and so one obstacle was crossed. Peter told the girlfriend she did not qualify as she and Vincent did not cohabit. She made a claim however for an equal share of the estate. The cousins agreed to Peter’s suggestion that, since they were unaware of any benefit they would each receive and the girlfriend had been a companion (at least) of Vincent, she should receive an equal share and this was agreed by all parties and drew this strange case to a conclusion.