"If I die, Pete gets everything!" Er… no Katie, he won't. | Mayo Wynne Baxter
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“If I die, Pete gets everything!” Er… no Katie, he won’t.

During a panel discussion on Monday’s Loose Women show, former glamour model Katie Price revealed that she has not updated her Will since she split from her ex-husband Peter Andre in 2009. The panel was discussing what arrangements parents should make for the care of their children in the event of their death.

Ms Price has a 14 year old son Harvey with retired footballer Dwight Yorke, 11 year old Junior and 9 year old Princess with Peter Andre, and two children Jet (3) and Bunny (2) with her current husband Kieran Hayler.

The 38 year old reality TV star, who previously went by the pseudonym Jordan, admitted that talking about the issue on the ITV show had been a “wake up call” for her and that she intended to sort out a new Will including provision for her children.

Unfortunately, many of the conclusions made by Ms Price and her fellow panellists, which were then repeated by various newspapers, were wildly inaccurate and misleading.

Ms Price stated during the discussion that her ex-husband Peter Andre would get all her estate if she died but this is simply not true. Even though her last Will may have named Mr Andre as her sole beneficiary, that Will is no longer valid.

Many people don’t realise that a Will becomes invalid if the testator (the person making the Will) marries, re-marries or enters a civil partnership. Ms Price has been married twice since she divorced Mr Andre; she married cage fighter Alex Reid in 2010 and, following their divorce, she married Kieran Hayler.

The truth is that Mr Andre would not automatically be entitled to inherit anything from Ms Price estate.

In the absence of a valid Will, the intestacy rules laid down by law dictate how the deceased person’s estate should be shared out. These rules state that the deceased’s current spouse, in this case Mr Hayler, would inherit the first £250,000 of the assets together with all the personal possessions, whatever their value.  The remainder of the estate would be split in two, with one half going to Mr Hayler and the other half being split equally between Ms Price’s five children.

The outcome may be that the children get much less inheritance than Ms Price would have intended. Such an imbalance may result in the children, via their legal representative, issuing court proceedings against the estate under the provisions of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.   Such litigation can become protracted and expensive, not to mention emotionally draining.

Ms Price went on to make various assumptions about what would happen to her children if she were no longer alive. She thought that Junior and Princess would go to their father Mr Andre and that Jet and Bunny would go to their father Mr Hayler.  As fathers presumably named on their children’s birth certificates and married to Ms Price when the children were born, Mr Andre and Mr Hayler have parental responsibility for their children.  Regardless of Ms Price’s wishes, the children would most likely go to live with their respective fathers.

However, Ms Price incorrectly concluded that her eldest child Harvey would be cared for by Mr Hayler, stating “I would guarantee Kieran would definitely take on Harvey… I know he would have no doubts about that.”

The difficulty that arises is that it is not clear who has parental responsibility for Harvey, other than his mother. His biological father, Dwight Yorke, apparently refused to recognise paternity until a DNA test proved he was Harvey’s father.  Ms Price has previously stated that he has nothing to do with his son and one may conclude that she would certainly not want Harvey to live with his father.  News stories have reported that Mr Andre had expressed a desire to adopt Harvey but there is no evidence that he did so.  More recent reports suggest that Mr Hayler intends to adopt Harvey but, again, there is no indication that this happened.

In the absence of a clearly defined guardian, it may fall to other adults in Harvey’s family such as Ms Price’s parents to apply to the court for a parental responsibility order or legal guardianship.

Given the complexity of the situation, and to ensure that her wishes are appropriately documented, Ms Price would certainly benefit from some sound legal advice. Failure to make a Will, especially where there are children from previous relationships, can all too easily end in dispute.

For advice on estate and inheritance planning, please contact Mayo Wynne Baxter whose specialist team of solicitors can give you peace of mind that your finances and your family will be taken care of after you are gone.

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