Intestacy rules: can Morgan Freeman protect his step-granddaughter’s inheritance?

Year Published: 2015
Helen Gowin, Partner and Head of Estate Adimistration & Probate at SAS Daniels Congleton

Helen Gowin, Head of Estate Administration & Probate

Recently in the US, the step granddaughter of Oscar-winning Morgan Freeman (the child of his first wife’s daughter) was murdered and died without a valid Will. Under the intestacy rules in the US her estate will be divided between her parents, although she hardly knew her father. Mr Freeman is seeking to challenge this in the courts following a substantial gift he made to her, part of which will now end up in the hands of someone she rarely saw.

You may have heard the phrase “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” used by Benjamin Franklin in 1789 and still quoted some 225 years later. Although this rings true when considering one’s mortality, many people still put off making a Will and leave the distribution of their estate subject to the intestacy rules. In the UK these rules determine who inherits your estate and in many cases your estate may end up with relatives you saw very little of or hardly knew. If you die without a spouse or civil partner and do not have children, your parents will be the next people entitled to your estate. If this is not where you would like your estate to end up and if you do not want to increase the value of your parents’ estate, you need to make a Will. With a careful review of your finances and family situation a Will can ensure that the beneficiaries of your own choosing can inherit your estate, making it clear where you would like it to end up. Hopefully this will avoid family arguments and even court action which can often happen if your estate ends up in the hands of someone you hardly knew.

It is more important than ever to make a Will and ensure that the people who inherit your estate are the ones you want to benefit.

If you would like advice on how to deal with a family member’s estate please contact Helen Gowin in our Estate Administration and Probate team.

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