It’s a Wonderful Life; RIP Tara Palmer-Tomkinson…

Whilst half the country shivered under a blanket of snow (or rather less romantically, sat gridlocked on ungritted motorways), there’s no denying that winter is finally upon us this week.

As the year draws to a close, and with Christmas around the corner, the old adage goes that we bring our loved ones near and take stock of our lives during this festive season.  Perhaps because of this, there has been a certain whimsical tone of late to the separate reporting of the Will contents of two recently departed celebrities; Socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and ‘Partridge Family’ heart throb, David Cassidy.

Whilst apparently having little in common, other than their ability to generate content for the tabloids, their last Will and Testaments are both seemingly laced with regret.

The former ‘IT’ girl had notoriously lived through highly publicised battles with addiction and substance abuse and ultimately lost her life ‘peacefully in her sleep’ from a perforated stomach ulcer. Following her death in February 2017, it has been reported that her most recent Will was drafted and executed in 2004. Whilst a 13 year old Will is by no means unheard of, the contents were considered newsworthy due to the clause that stipulated Tara’s estate was to go to any children she may have. The papers were quick to lament that the fact that she had died without having children was a ‘tragedy’ and instead, her estate has been left to her nephews and nieces (as instructed by Tara) to inherit as her plan B.

There is little doubt that the death of any 45 year old woman is a tragic event.  However the main body of the reporting seemed to focus on the clause making provision for her children that never were. That the tragedy was to be found in the unfulfilled expectation; assuming that her life was less rich, less fulfilled as a result. Whilst this is most certainly up for debate (and potentially says more about the attitudes of those writing such articles) it is common planning when writing a Will to not only state who you would like to inherit based on your current circumstances (her nieces and nephews for example) but to make provision for future events to ensure that all bases are covered to reduce the need for costly re-writes in the future. Indeed, we would still encourage this school of thinking when taking Will instructions from our own clients today.

However, whilst consideration of all future ‘what ifs’ is always encouraged, it is also imperative to update your Will following any significant changes in your personal circumstances. This is where David Cassidy’s Will comes in.

Once again, relying on a document created in 2004 (presumably a bumper year for Will drafting?), the actor-singer had seemingly cut his daughter, Katie Cassidy, entirely and unequivocally out of his Will, ensuring that she did not receive any benefit from his estate following their estrangement. In itself, and should the circumstances have remained the same, there would potentially be no problem with relying on the 2004 Will. Yet in recent years, David had reunited and reconciled with his daughter. There is nothing to say that he would have made any changes to once again include her in his inheritance as a result, but in any case his death from organ failure came before any amendments were made.

We live in a country that allows for testamentary freedom and the ability to leave your estate to whomever you choose. Yet as Spiderman warns, with great freedom comes great responsibility. To all our clients and beyond, we stress the importance of regularly checking the contents of your Will to ensure they still reflect your current wishes.

Je ne regrette rien. Except possibly that last mince pie… Merry Christmas all.

If you need some help in writing your Will, then speak to a member of the team at legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk to find out more.

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