Personal autonomy is nowadays a crucial factor in divorce and judges are anxious to ensure that the end of a marriage is accompanied by the termination of dependency. In one big money case, the Court of Appeal ruled that an ex-wife was entitled to sufficient...
Where theres a Will... there doesn't have to be a family argument a (Hollywood Tale)
I appreciate that although very few of us have the personal wealth to rival the rich and famous; when it comes to putting our affairs in order, we could learn a lot from their mistakes.
Wills, or the lack of, have made for fascinating reading in the magazine columns with stories about bitter family disputes, costly Court battles and disinherited family members. Here are a few scare stories to get you thinking:-
It was reported that the actor Heath Ledger failed to update his Will after the birth of his daughter. On his death, his estate passed to his parents and sister in accordance with a Will that he had prepared many years earlier. No provision had been made for his 2 year old daughter and an ugly family row about how the estate should be distributed ensued.
Stieg Larsson, the writer of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, died in 2004 without a Will. Stieg Larsson never married his partner of 32 years which meant that in accordance with Swedish law, his estate passed to his father and brother whom he was reported as being estranged from. A bitter dispute played out in the media, the likes of which was just as compelling as one of his novels.
Most recently, it has been reported that following the death of Sopranos actor James Gandolfini, a Will has come to light that may not have protected his estate from avoidable taxes.
As much as we are fascinated by these stories, we seem to ignore our own circumstances. More and more of us are choosing not to get married and step families are becoming the most common family structure in the UK.
There seems to be a general reluctance to make a Will with more than 60% of the UK population choosing not to bother to prepare one.
For many, the types of arguments and disputes that are written about in the media can be prevented and whilst I appreciate that very few of us will have an Inheritance Tax issue, a professionally drawn Will can help to minimise any exposure to Inheritance tax.
Even the simplest of Wills allows you to choose who should be in charge of your estate, who should be the guardian of your young children and ultimately who should reap the fruits of your labour. It is something that you can do and then get on with living your life, remembering to review your Will every couple of years, of course!