Caroline Flack – lessons learnt about the importance of making a Will
After the tragic death of Caroline Flack in 2020, her mother reportedly vowed that she would ‘use the money wisely to help good causes that Caroline was passionate about’.
This comment alluded to the fact that Caroline had not made a Will during her lifetime. While this may seem surprising, given that her reported wealth at her death was £2 million, it is not an uncommon scenario, particularly when people are sadly taken from us at a young age.
The reaction of Caroline Flack’s mother led to some confusing newspaper headlines about intestacy and what happens when someone dies without making a Will. While it is possible to vary the intestacy provisions after a person’s death, the only way to ensure that your estate passes according to your own wishes is to make a Will.
Without a valid Will in place, your estate passes according to a set of predetermined laws known as the intestacy rules. The exact determination as to who will inherit from your estate depends upon your family structure and financial circumstances.
Your estate might pass to your spouse or civil partner, or to your children or siblings. In Caroline Flack’s case, as she was not married or in a civil partnership and she did not have any children, her estate passed to her parents.
Where parents are beneficiaries under intestacy, the estate is divided equally between them. This is even the case if you are estranged from one, or both, of your parents. Without a valid Will, there is always a possibility that your estate might pass to a family member you did not get on with.
Making a will
Aside from being able to decide who benefits from your estate and to what extent, there are many benefits to making a Will. Had Caroline Flack made a Will, she may have chosen to leave some of her money and possessions to friends or to a specific charity.
As well as allowing you to choose your own beneficiaries, making a Will can also ensure that your assets are distributed in the most tax efficient way. Had Caroline left some, or all, of her estate to charity in a Will this would have resulted in a reduced inheritance tax liability, as gifts made to charity are exempt.
While it is possible to alter the intestacy rules, this can only be done if the beneficiaries agree, which they may well not. It is also necessary to make the changes formally, by way of a deed, at the estates expense. Not all beneficiaries are as open to this option as Caroline Flack’s parents were.
It is not all about the money
When considering Wills and probate, money is often the first thing to spring to mind. However, leaving a will also allows you to express wishes about other arrangements for after your death.
If you have children who are under 18, you can choose who should look after them if neither you nor any other person with parental responsibility is still alive.
You can also specify who should look after any pets you may have, as well as providing a pot of money to assist them with this. A Will also allows you to express wishes about your funeral and to leave items of personal sentiment to specific people.
How we can help
Our Wills and probate solicitors are knowledgeable and experienced, and we can help you to make sure that your wishes are legally documented and that all your loved ones are provided for in the most tax efficient way.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.
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