Bob Marley best known to us for his wonderful reggae music, passed away at the age of 36 without having created a Will.
Four decades after he lost his battle with cancer, the protracted court battle over his estate continues.
Such disputes once seemed exclusive to the rich and famous. However with soaring property prices, second and subsequent marriages and the modern blended family relatives and friends are more likely to feel they are missing out on what they feel is their rightful inheritance and numerous claims against an estate can be made.
When a person passes without having created a valid Will, the assets are distributed in accordance with intestacy rules. This means only married, civil partners and other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.
Therefore unmarried partners, lesbian or gay partners (not in civil partnership), close friends or carers do not have a right to inherit. They may however be able to apply to the court for financial provision from the estate.
Therein lies the problem and how to resolve it
So it is very clear that by planning ahead, seeking professional advice and creating a valid Will, you will ensure your estate is left to those you wish to benefit.
Ensure you talk to your beneficiaries. Talking can shed light on their expectations and create a sense of fairness.
If your circumstances change ensure your Will is kept up to date. Your once loved Son-in-law now divorced from your Daughter might now be replaced by a new partner. Blended families makes lines of inheritance less defined. If you re-marry, you will need to make a new Will as your existing Will is automatically revoked.
Ensure your Will is written by a professional, When detailing the division of assets worth hundreds of thousands of pounds it is worth investing in a professional service. By doing so you can feel confident your Will is fair, legal and watertight.
Think Smart and be smart
Aside from being a brilliant musician, Marley was also a smart businessman. His numerous ventures could have been deposited in trust for the benefit of his family or others. Therefore you would be well advised to consider this case and take steps with regard to your own estate planning efforts.
Even when the net worth of an estate is modest, succession planning can seriously mitigate the need for inheritance disputes.
For further information and advice please contact RG Law Wills and Probate Team on 01904 310338