Making a will let’s you be clear about your wishes, giving you peace of mind and helping to avoid family disputes later. A well designed will can make everything as easy as possible for your family at what will no doubt be a very difficult time for them.
Dying without a valid will
If you die without a valid will in place then your estate will be passed on in accordance with the rules of intestacy. Only married or civil partners and certain other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.
The following people have no right to inherit under the rules of intestacy:
unmarried partners (sometimes wrongly called ‘common-law’ partners)
lesbian or gay partners not in a civil partnership
relations by marriage
So if you are unmarried and die without a valid will you could leave your partner homeless. They get no access to your money, no matter how long you have been together. Other unfortunate consequences of dying intestate might include:
The courts may choose different guardians for your children if your specific wishes are not documented
There may be disputes over the ownership of your business
Others may claim on your estate, creating costs and delays
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate will writing or inheritance tax planning.
Making a will is an act of compassion for those you leave behind
A will makes it much easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die – without a will the process can be more time consuming, stressful, and potentially argumentative.
Writing a will is especially important if you have children or other family who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family such as close friends or charities.
A will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that might be payable on the value of the estate you leave behind.
If you have property you need a will. It will likely change over time but wills are meant to be reviewed as circumstances change. If you have children, get divorced, marry somebody who already has their own children, or have other significant life changes then it is likely you will need to update your will to ensure your wishes remain clear.
Radcliffe & Newlands do not offer a will writing service but can refer you to a solicitor for this purpose.
Deal with family issues now for peace of mind
Confronting issues from the past can be extremely uncomfortable and even a flash point for current relationships. While issues with a blended family, past relationships, a special needs child, addicted family member, or more can seem unresolvable, there are solutions. Wills can be tailored to deal with these more complex or delicate family dynamics with sensitivity for the benefit of all concerned.
Speak to an adviser who will assess your objectives, current position, and help you plan a course of action. It’s also an opportunity for you to get to know us before deciding to engage our services. You can ask as many questions as you need. Your first meeting with us where we will discuss the ways in which we might help you is free of charge. Contact us today to book an appointment.
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When Jimi Hendrix passed away without a will in 1970, his $80 million estate estate fell to his father, Al Hendrix. Thus began a chain of events leading to sibling legal battles and $ 1.7 million lawsuit.
When Al Hendrix died in 2002, the bad blood began to boil between his children and Jimi’s siblings, Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s adopted sister and younger brother, Leon Hendrix. Al, in his will, left Jimi’s estate to be under the sole control of Janie Hendrix, the adopted daughter. That had to cause extreme resentment with Leon being Al’s blood son.
Nonetheless, Janie was the operator of the Jimi Hendrix’s estate through Al Hendrix’s wishes. In 2004, Leon Hendrix contested his father’s will with the Washington State Supreme Court. The court upheld the will in 2007. Years later, the Hendrix estate and Jimi’s brother are still sorting out those issues in the same court where their legal tussle began.
In recent case of Keeling v Keeling, Stephen Keeling claimed his widowed sister, Ellen, gifted him and his wife her unregistered property. She died intestate. Stephen then took out a grant of letters of administration and later informed the other beneficiaries that Ellen had handed him the deeds and keys to the property, stating that she wished him and his wife to have it.
This was disputed by the other beneficiaries who claimed that Ellen had told her carers that she did not want her brother, Stephen, or his wife to get their hands on her money.
The court found inconsistences in Stephen’s evidence, but crucially there was evidence that Ellen lacked capacity to manage her property. The judge further said that even if the house had been given to Stephen Keeling as a gift, it had been done so six months prior to her death and the gift would have lapsed.
The judge ordered that the estate should be distributed in accordance with intestacy rules. Courts require strict evidence in cases involving death bed gifts. Often the only witness is the person claiming to be in receipt of a death bed gift.
Court appoints bank as executor after singer Prince died without a will.
A court in Minnesota declared that the musician Prince had no known will and moved to appoint an executor.
The singer was responsible for a litany of hits including 1999, Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, Kiss and thirty-seven other UK top 40 hits as a performer as well as dozens of other song writing and production credits (including writing the Sinead O’Connor smash Nothing Compares 2 U).
However according to courts in his home state of Minnesota in the US, the 57 year old left no will. The singer’s estate which included his $10 million Paisley Park estate is thought to be worth close to $300 million. But incoming song writing royalties plus rights to the singer’s much documented vault of unreleased music could be worth much more, with estimates as high as $500,000 being made.
Prince Rogers Nelson, as he was born, was married and divorced twice, and both of his parents have passed away. However his sister Tyka Nelson listed herself and five other siblings and half siblings, who will all be in line to benefit as according to Minnesota’s intestate succession rules, “half” relatives inherit as if they were “whole”.
Comedian and actor, Rik Mayall died unexpectedly in June 2014 at the age of 56, leaving his family a huge tax bill on his £1.2m estate. As he left no will, the whole of his estate didn’t automatically pass to his widow. Instead it was divided between his widow and children, according to the Rules of Intestacy.
His widow inherited the first £250,000 with no Inheritance Tax (IHT) to pay, because it isn’t payable on legacies between spouses. She also inherited a ‘Life Interest’ in £475,000, half of the remaining estate, again with no IHT to pay. (Had Rik passed away after October 2014, she would have inherited that sum absolutely, not just for life, as a result of an October 2014 change in the Intestacy Rules).
His children inherited the remaining £475,000 between them. The 40% Inheritance tax is payable on legacies to children, of anything over and above £325,000, and therefore the first £325,000 passed to Rik’s children tax free as well as £60,000 tax bill on the excess of £150,000.
That £60,000 could instead have been used to contribute towards his widow’s financial security if only Rik had written the will.
Richard Moore died in 2009, suddenly, from a pulmonary embolism. He did not leave a will.
After Richard’s death, his brother and mother were advised that as he was not married and has no dependants his estate would be shared equally between his surviving parents.
Richard’s biological father played almost no part in his upbringing. His parents divorced in the early 1970s. They never saw him and he was not part of their lives anymore.
But Richard’s biological father accepted his full entitlement.
“It was my mother’s responsibility to find my father, pay legal fees and then meet the costs of tracking him down” says his brother Dr Moore. ” Then it was not just a question of him having half of my brother’s money, we had to sell his home and his possessions – his CDs, DVDs, his clothes – all for this man, a stranger, who didn’t even send us a birthday card in our entire lives”.