Most people make a Will so that when they die, their estate is divided among family and friends in the way that they (the testator) wish. But what happens if the estate is left to, say, a spouse and children and they all perish in the same accident as the benefactor?
This is what tragically happened to the Cousins family at the end of 2017. Mr Cousins (a multi-millionaire), his fiancé, her daughter and his two sons all died in a seaplane accident. Mr Cousins had previously had a Will drawn up that would have left the majority of his fortune in trust to his sons, but he also had a “common tragedy” clause written into the Will.
To ensure that your wishes are carried out after you’ve gone, it’s essential to make a Will, preferably with the help of a Wills solicitor. Many people see making a Will as a chance to ensure their loved ones are well provided for, but some people choose to do this in more unusual ways than others. Here is a look at some of the strangest bequests made in Wills.
My Second-Best Bed
When William Shakespeare died in 1616, he left the majority of his money and properties to his daughters. Shakespeare left almost nothing to his wife, Anne, save his “second best bed” and some other furniture. Initially, the Will did not mention his wife at all. The bequest of the “second best bed” was only added in less than a month before he died. It may have been the case that the aforementioned bed was the marital bed and therefore was of special significance to Anne. It was common in the 17th Centenary for people to bequeath their beds to someone, usually a spouse or close relative.
Digital assets are now a part of our everyday lives, such as social media accounts, income-generating Instagram, blogs or YouTube accounts, online-only money accounts, or cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
It is estimated that there are around £25 billion of UK assets which are digital. While most of these are of sentimental value, such as photographs and social media accounts, there are digital assets that are, or have the potential to be, of significant value and provide an income stream for many years to come. Music, books, commercially valuable photographs and videos are more frequently published online rather than in a physical form such as CDS or paper books and can sell for many years after the creator has died. In addition to the issue of ownership of digital assets after death, there is also the issue of what the owner would wish to happen to his digital assets should he die – for example, closing down social media accounts or retaining a “legacy” page.
New research shows that 61 % of British adults do not have a Will. This equates to 30 million people.
Populus conducted the research in June this year with a sample of 2,078 adults. The new figures show a small increase from the 2016 research by Prudential which found that 59% of British adults did not have a Will.
Some of the reasons given during the recent research about why people have not made a Will include:
The research also found that there are regional differences when it comes to attitudes towards making a Will. People in England are more likely than those in Wales or Scotland to have made a Will. Those living in the South-West of England having the highest whilst London showed the lowest numbers of people who have made a Will.
Estate planning is an area of law that requires a lot of careful thought. There are many important matters to address when writing a Will, and a mistake could lead to a dispute arising at a later date. To help ensure your wishes are fully carried out and your estate is administered in the way you want after your death, here are six crucial things to consider when constructing your Will.
1 – Make sure you use an experienced Wills solicitor. Don’t be tempted by the cheap “DIY” Wills you see online or in bookshops – you could end up inadvertently disinheriting loved ones because of some ambiguous wording or causing unnecessary complications for your family after you’ve gone.
2 – Choose your Executors wisely. Often, parents will choose their adult children who have been estranged from each other or have had a turbulent relationship for many years. This is done in the hope that it will bring the siblings closer together as they deal with their parent’s estate. However, this is rarely the case and often causes a great many difficulties and additional expense and delays for the executors and beneficiaries. Make sure your chosen executors know what is expected of them and that they are willing to act as executor. It is better to choose two executors, rather than one, just in case anything incapacitates the sole executor.