Monthly Archives: July 2017

Pet Lovers and Probate

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For those of us with furry friends, we do sometimes wonder what life will be like for them should we pass away. We want to ensure they are protected and loved once we are no longer there to look after them.

It is possible to leave your animals in your Will to friends or family members, whom you trust to take care of your pets once you are gone. A small monetary gift alongside this could help to ensure your pampered pooch is kept in a style to which he or she has become accustomed.

Specifically placing money into trust for the sole benefit of an animal is problematic: English law gives very few exceptions to the rule that only human beneficiaries can receive money under a trust. Although there is a common law means of leaving money for the welfare of an animal for a defined number of years, this is rare and not particularly advisable.

However, providing money on a discretionary trust basis to the recipient of your pet may be a more nuanced means of ensuring that funds might be used for your pets after you have died.

Some charities operate a service whereby they can quickly and safely receive your pets, and provide food and shelter for them once you have passed away: you may wish to speak to your local charities and see what options may be available to minimise distress and harm to your pets at that difficult time.

You may also want to consider leaving a gift of money for a relevant charity: not only will this help look after other animals, but it may also reduce the inheritance tax payable on your estate.

Speak to your local will writer if you have any queries over how best to look after your beloved pets.

Pet lovers and probate – James Greenwood

Further Gifts of Residue – The importance of making further provision in your Will

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When drafting your Will inevitably the most important decision is who will benefit from your assets. Most people will have a clear idea on the beneficiary of their estate at the point of drafting a Will. But many fail to consider what may happen should their desired beneficiary die before them.

On the death of the testator, the Executors of the Will must identify the beneficiary and contact them regarding their inheritance. Most Wills stipulate a certain time period in which the beneficiary must survive in order to benefit, i.e ‘I give my residuary estate to X subject to him surviving me by 30 days’ but what happens if that beneficiary died months or years before and there are no further instructions in the Will?

Under such circumstances the estate is said to fall to partial intestacy. Most people commonly understand intestacy to mean that there is no Will in existence, but even where a valid Will exists which fails to or does not properly dispose of the estate then the assets must still be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

This can cause problems if there are no immediate family members. The Executors must then begin the process of searching for the person(s) entitled to the assets and this can prove extremely time consuming and difficult. Some firms will be able to undertake this research on your behalf but it is not uncommon for such firms to charge in excess of 25% of the estate for doing so.

All the above can be easily avoided by simply including a ‘Further Gift of Residue’ clause in your Will. You can then specify who should inherit your assets in the event that your desired beneficiary has already died and you can rest assured that your wishes will take place. You can also provide multiple further gifts which will further help you to control the eventual distribution of your estate.

For more information regarding drafting a Will and choosing your beneficiaries then please contact the Society of Will Writers.


Ten Celebrities & their peculiar wills and bequests.

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Ten Celebrities & their peculiar wills and bequests.

  1.  Janis Joplin

Recording artist and songwriter Janis Joplin, famous for her work in the 1960s and 70s, met a tragic death in 1970. Perhaps as a means of wanting to leave a positive memory for her family and friends, Joplin’s will set aside $2,500 for a wake party in the event she passed away.

  1. Mark Gruenwald

Mark Gruenwald was best known for his work with Marvel comics and serving as Executive Editor of Captain America and Iron Man. After a fatal heart attack in 1996, an interesting request was discovered in his will: He was to be cremated and his ashes were to be mixed with ink that could be used to print comic books—and they were.

  1. Harry Houdini

The famed magician who died in 1926 left in his will 10 random words to his wife. He stated in his will that she should hold a séance every Halloween following his death and that he would communicate with her through those 10 words. After his passing, his wife held such séances every year for 10 years, eventually stopping since Houdini did not make his presence known.

  1. Napoleon Bonaparte

You’re no doubt aware of the historical significance of Napoleon Bonaparte, but you may not know about an odd bequest in his will. Upon his death in 1821, his will directed that his head be shaved and his hair be distributed among his friends.

  1. Robert Louis Stevenson

Some bequests don’t involve property or anything tangible at all. When Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the classics Treasure Island and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, passed away in 1894, he left a friend something she would never forget. Annie H. Ide’s birthday fell on Christmas day and she had confided in Stevenson feeling cheated out of a real birthday. So as part of his last wishes, he left her his own birthday of November 13.

  1. Leona Helmsley

Hotel owner Leona Helmsley made more headlines in death than she did during her life. When she passed in 2007, she left 10 million to her brother, 5 million to her grandsons, and 12 million to her dog, Trouble.

  1. Dusty Springfield

’60s pop singer Dusty Springfield left very specific instructions in her will. Springfield’s will demanded that her cat, Nicholas, be fed imported baby food, live in an indoor tree house, be sung to sleep at night with Dusty’s old records, have his bed lined with Dusty’s pillowcase and nightgown, and get married to a friend’s female cat.

  1. Philip Seymour Hoffman

When actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away of an overdose in 2014, his will kicked up some family drama. Hoping to avoid turning his children into “trust fund kids,” Hoffman left everything to his girlfriend instead of his children. He also requested that his son, Cooper, be raised in three cities: New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.

  1. Charles Dickens

English author Charles Dickens was really particular about his funeral. In his will he made sure to write out wardrobe requirements for his memorial service. He requested that “those attending my funeral wear no scarf, cloak, black bow, long hat-band, or other such revolting absurdity.

  1. Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was a troubled soul — maybe that’s why she didn’t have the foresight to leave her legacy to her family. Instead, Marilyn left all of her personal effects to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg. Apparently, all of her belongings sat in Lee’s basement until the day he died.

Written by Courtnee Briggs