RESPECT for those who’ve made a Will

Posted: Sep 12, 2018
Wills and Probate

RESPECT for those who’ve made a Will


Making a Will can be difficult for many people: some people don’t want to think about dying, others assume their wealth will automatically pass to their loved ones. 

Aretha Franklin joins one of many highly successful artists (such as Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, and Prince) who did not leave a will – along with thirty million people in the UK who are currently without one. In Franklin’s case, the effect of this is all the more profound: her eldest son lives with extensive special care requirements, and will need this care for the rest of his life. Yet the lack of a will means that on the face of things, he would not automatically receive any particular financial or medical provision. Luckily, Franklin’s 80-million-dollar estate will be shared between her four sons equally under Michigan state law. This estate includes the rights to some of Franklin’s biggest songs. Not everyone is so lucky. The Intestacy Rules in England and Wales (this is, the law that sets out who inherits a deceased person’s estate where they’ve left no Will) are quite strict in their application, and there is very little flexibility as to who will inherit. 

The sad death of Heath Ledger is another example of poor estate planning. Ledger had a will but did not update this after the birth of his daughter Matilda. She ended up inheriting nothing. Under English law the situation may not have been the same, as the family could have claimed on Ledger’s estate for reasonable provision for Matilda – but this would have also created additional stress for the family and unnecessary legal costs for something so simply avoided. These examples highlight the importance of making a will that is drafted well and regularly updated, particularly in the event of major life changes. 

Please contact a member of our Probate team on 01562 822295 (Kidderminster) or on 01299 822033 (Stourport)