The High Court Judge deciding the dispute between two step daughters who are both claiming to have inherited the family home will have to decide which of the elderly couple died of hypothermia first.  The presumption is that the elder of the couple died first but the court has also heard evidence to suggest that the wife, who was younger, was more likely to have died first. 

These are unusual and very sad circumstances.  However, battles between step children have become more common as second marriages have increased.  Often the couple have agreed to leave the family home equally to all their children by previous marriages but after one party dies, the other partner changes their will to benefit their children only.  

One way to ensure that the family home gets divided equally between the two sides of the family is to sever the ownership so that each party can leave their portion to their own children.  A will drawn up by a solicitor can ensure that the surviving partner would still have the right to go on living in the property.  An unjust outcome and costly disputes between step children can thereby be avoided.