Posted by James McNeile, Partner
Why it’s important to have a clearly drafted Will
Fiona Feggetter discusses the importance of having a clearly drafted Will and a letter of wishes to reduce the likelihood of beneficiaries contesting the contents as has happened to the estate of the late actor and comedian Robin Williams.
As if the tragedy of a man in the prime of his life with a wife and children suddenly deciding to end it all were not enough, Robin Williams’s death is causing yet more pain for those closest to him.
According to the media, Robin Williams’s wife (his third marriage) and children from a previous marriage are locked in a dispute over his estate. It has reached the level where they have now applied to court as they cannot reach a resolution between them. This will inevitably cause further heartbreak for all concerned and run up significant legal costs.
While details are sparse, the dispute appears to be over how his personal belongings in the home he shared with his wife were to be divided, his wife arguing that these belongings were to stay in the house that she was left and that only the possessions in his house in Napa were to be left to his children.
This is a classic example of a situation where there is already a conflict of interest, the surviving spouse not being the parent of the bereaved children and it demonstrates the importance of having a well drafted, clear, above challenge, Will and letter of wishes in place.
All too often families fall out and people’s estates are squandered in legal costs, because those left behind, in their grief and anger, fight over ambiguities of inheritance.
Recent statistics reveal that at least one in three people in the UK do not have a Will and it is likely that more and more disputes are going to arise. All this could be avoided by putting an effective Will and letter of wishes in place which, if the situation demands, will incorporate an asset holding structure to ensure that all parties are provided for fairly.
For advice on drafting a clear and concise Will contact Fiona Feggetter or another member of our Private Client team to discuss your options.
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