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23rd August 2018

Careful Will planning turned a family tragedy into £41million charity legacy

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Richard Cousins, a successful business man, sought legal advice for preparing a new Will in 2016. In his Will he made a provision that should his two sons die with him he would like the bulk of his wealth to go to a charity of his choosing; Oxfam. This is known as a common tragedy clause. Tragically, Richard Cousins and his two sons, William and Edward, died in an aeroplane crash on New Years Eve 2017 in Sydney, Australia. Richard’s fiancée and her 11 year old daughter also died in the crash along with the pilot.

With Richard’s sons dying with him, the common tragedy clause came into operation, although reports state Richard also left a substantial legacy to his brothers. Richard had clearly given great thought to covering all possible circumstances regarding his wealth on death and sought the appropriate advice to ensure his wishes were carried out.

If Richard had not included a common tragedy clause, the £41million would have passed under the intestacy rules. Richard’s family circumstances are largely unknown but clearly this was not what he wanted. In spite of the tragedy, his thoughtfulness and the advice he obtained meant his wishes were carried through.

If you would like to discuss preparing or revising your Will please contact Ciara Wanstall by email: or telephone: 01604 463101.