Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, sadly passed away in August and did so without leaving a Will. This might come as a surprise to many given her superstar status and assets worth an estimated £62.3 million. Without a Will in place, local law is dictating how her estate is being divided, rather than this being her own choice. This is further complicated because one of her sons has special needs that require financial and medical support for the rest of his life. The process of administering her estate could take years to resolve because of this lack of clear division and potential claims to the inheritance, and will likely play out in public.
If not, what has stopped you creating one up to this point? Does the idea of creating a Will feel like too much hassle? Does the thought of talking about it just make you feel awkward and uncomfortable? Do you find it difficult to raise the subject with elderly relatives?
William Jennens died in 1798 with a vast personal fortune of well over £1million (worth around £200million today). He was an only child and a bachelor who lived alone, so his extended family were naturally intrigued to hear the reading of the will to see how they’d fared.
They say that the two things you can’t avoid are death and paying taxes, and even the former doesn’t stop the latter. Inheritance tax used to be a tax on the very rich, but today it may affect many families.
Unless you are a lawyer, or some strange legal hanger on, the news that the Legal Services Board (LSB) has formally asked the government to regulate will writing has probably passed you by. Most normal people do not think about regulation (although I confess I have no evidence for this assertion) and if they do, they probably assume it is already there. They aren’t likely to waste valuable minutes reading about it when the future queen of England has been snapped in only her bikini.
They say the only things certain in life are death and taxes (unless of course you are one of the super rich and can effectively avoid the taxes). Most of us aren’t particularly prepared for either, although fortunately (or unfortunately) it is almost impossible to forget to pay your taxes.
Here’s a cheery thought as the Christmas and new year holiday recedes from memory, apparently more people die in January than any other month of the year. It seems that divorce rates also spike in January. Whether these events are related is not clear, although the reasons for the high number of marriage breakups just after Christmas are more obvious than the reasons for dying.