What do Aretha Franklin, Pablo Picasso, Prince, Benny Hill, Amy Winehouse, Barry White, Nate Dogg and Rik Mayall have in common? They all died without a valid Will.
We all know a Will is one of those essential documents required to ensure that our estate goes to family, or in some cases, so that is doesn’t go to family! Yet despite accruing fortunes in the millions, a surprising number of celebrities fail to make a proper Will and die Intestate leaving behind huge delay, family feuds, general upset and litigation going on for years.
Most recent was the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. It was reported that she was urged by her Attorney for 30 years to make a will, but unfortunately this was never something she got around to doing. Luckily her fortune, which will be in the tens of millions, will eventually be divided between her four sons. However, the IRS will conduct a full audit, which will be available to the public and will most likely take years to complete. Sadly, Don Wilson, her entertainment attorney, said she would not have wanted her finances publicly aired as “she was a private person”.
The Will made by Benny Hill was also controversial. Hill, who died in 1992, had a Will in place that was over 30 years old leaving his estate to his parents. By the time he died his parents had pre-deceased him by many years. He had made various promises of testamentary gifts to lots of different friends and eventually another document was found stipulating that Hill wished for his estate to be shared equally amongst certain friends. However, as this document was not signed or witnessed correctly, it had no legal standing and therefore Hill’s friends received nothing. Instead the estate passed under the intestacy rules with £7.5 million going to his nephews and nieces with whom, it was reported, he did not have any close relationships.
Many people put off updating their Wills and, as Solicitors, we see this regularly, however, the most common observation from clients after our meetings is that the whole process was painless and there was no need for procrastination about such an important document.
The only way to avoid all of the disputes, delays, additional inheritance tax payable as a result of dying without a will is to actually make a professional drafted Will!
Please contact our team If you want advice, to make a Will or update an existing Will.