The Pitfalls of Not Making or Not Updating Your Will

Last will and testament

Don’t fall victim to the pitfalls of not making or updating your Will. Even the estates of those in the limelight have been affected by the consequences. Instructing a solicitor to prepare or update your Will helps to limit the risks of your estate ending up in the wrong hands and/or claims against your estate.

Please see our examples of celebrity estates that have been negatively impacted by their failure to prepare or update their Will.

January

Salvatore Phillip “Sonny” Bono, famous for being part of the well-known singing duo ‘Sonny and Cher’, died in January 1998 from a tragic ski accident. He didn’t have a Will. Sonny had been married four times and had four children. Sonny’s widow, Mary Bono, applied to be the executor of Sonny’s estate which was estimated to be worth around $2million.

However, without a Will in place, the administration of Sonny’s Will became difficult. Two claims were made against the estate. One was from Sonny’s second Wife, Cher, who sought a share in his estate because of alleged unpaid maintenance payments following their divorce settlement. The second claim was made by Sonny’s alleged ‘love child’. However, the second claim was dropped when a DNA test was requested.

After a lengthy and costly battle, Mary was eventually named as Sonny’s executor. Ultimately, Sonny could have prevented his family from the stress, expense and conflict they had to go through by preparing a Will which clearly stipulated where he wanted his estate to go after his death.

 

February

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, a well-known UK socialite died in February 2017 at the age of 45 from a perforated ulcer. Tara had previously prepared a Will in 2004 which left her entire estate to any children she may have when they reached the age of 25 years old.

At the date of death, Tara did not have any children. As a result, her reported £2.3 million estate passed to her siblings instead.

It is hoped that in the absence of any children, Tara would have wanted her estate to be divided equally between her siblings. However, any uncertainty could have been avoided if her Will had been updated to clearly state her wishes.

It is recommended that Wills are reviewed at least every 5 years or when a big event has happened in your life, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children and after a property transaction (to name a few).

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