It came as no surprise to me that, following the tragic death of singer ‘Prince’ last month, his family are now embroiled in a dispute over the late singer’s $300 million estate.
Unfortunately, the enigmatic music star failed to leave a Will and this is the just the most recent occasion where celebrities – often with multi-million pound estates – have not provided for their succession. Other notable mentions include Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley and Pablo Picasso. More often than not, the lack of a Will leads to uncertainty, delay and potential arguments amongst the surviving relatives.
I would advise that everyone (not just rock stars!) ensures that they have a valid, up to date Will. Even the most basic Will ensures your estate is dealt with in a timely, efficient manner and makes sure your assets go to the people you wish to benefit. Amongst many others, here are 6 reasons, unlike Prince, why you should ensure you put pen to paper sooner rather than later:
- A Will clearly states how you wish your assets to be dealt with so that, within the confines of the Scottish law of succession, you can ensure your closest loved ones benefit without dispute.
- Your Will appoints Executors (the individuals you wish to administer your estate) who have the legal power to ingather and distribute your assets. Without a Will, your family will have to petition the court to be appointed executors and, thereafter, put in place an insurance policy protecting the estate. This process is avoided by appointing Executors via your Will.
- You can ensure vulnerable beneficiaries, such as young children and relatives with disabilities, are protected and provided for on an ongoing basis. This ensures young children do not immediately receive a large inheritance and that disabled beneficiaries have financial protection without directly receiving substantial sums of money, which would ordinarily affect their eligibility for means tested benefits.
- Your Will can ensure your estate is dealt with in a tax efficient manner, limiting any Inheritance Tax liability and increasing the value of the estate passed onto relatives.
- You can provide for specific assets or possessions to be left to individuals who would not ordinarily benefit. This could include leaving money to a local charity which could, coincidently, provide your estate with tax relief.
- Without a Will your estate will be dealt with by the strict laws of Scottish Intestate Succession. This may still result in your closest relatives benefiting, but it promotes delay, disappointment and inflexibility.
The importance and practicality of a Will cannot be overstated and, for a small expense, you can ensure that potential family disputes are avoided. Please get in touch if you wish to put a comprehensive Will in place and your family are adequately provided for after your death.
The above summarises the reasons you should put a Will in place if you live in Scotland and the laws of succession, both testate and intestate, of other jurisdictions will differ.
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