Lynda Bellingham’s Family in Will dispute – How to avoid the same mistakes!

In April 12, 2016
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Estate planning

It has been reported in the news recently that the family of the late Lynda Bellingham have been arguing with each other over the distribution of Lynda’s estate planning and that this could turn into a legal challenge.

It appears as though Lynda’s Will, left everything to her husband and then after his death her two sons were meant to inherit everything. However there are growing concerns from her two sons, that apparently their step-father has deprived them of their inheritance, evicted them from the family home and squandered thousands from Lynda’s estate with lavish living and foreign trips.

As the war of words starts taking place in all the national newspapers, this has the potential to become a highly explosive situation which could see the family torn apart and going to court to challenge Lynda’s Will, after her death.

Sadly, this is not an uncommon story and whether you are a celebrity or not, families are often strained at such difficult times. Add in the grief over losing a loved one, plus any resentment towards the distribution of the deceased’s estate and it quickly can become a recipe for disaster.

Time and time again we see these cases end up in a court room, in front of a judge who has the unenviable task of trying to make sure that the deceased persons wishes are followed, whilst upholding what is fair and right within the confines of the law, all of this, without being able to directly speak to the person whose opinion matters most, the deceased’s.

But could this all be avoided?

Without actually seeing Lynda’s Will, I cannot comment on the specifics of this particular case, however if the media is to be believed, it appears as though Lynda has left everything to her husband absolutely and this leaves her children completely unprotected. Her husband is able to spend the entire family wealth however he sees fit and as a result there may or may not be anything left for Lynda’s children to have as a legacy from her.

With the right type of Will and the use of Trusts, this could have allowed Lynda to leave her estate for her husband’s benefit, ensuring that he was able to receive income, the right to continue to reside in their family home and even receive amounts of capital, whilst ensuring that there is strict controls in place, to make sure that he is not able to frivolously squander all of the family wealth and ensure that her sons ultimately receive their rightful inheritance upon their stepfather’s death. This certainly could have potentially avoided the family breakdown and possibly a long and costly court battle!

So, some key points to consider when planning your estate to avoid challenges and disputes:

  • Make sure your wishes are clear and not open to misinterpretation. Tell all your chosen beneficiaries your wishes while you are alive. Who gets what and when! That way any challenges, confusion or issues can be dealt with together, while you are still alive.
  • Consider appointing more than just one Executor, you should always appoint at least two, so there is someone else to keep a check on the actions of the other executor and work together to ensure your wishes are followed.
  • Discuss the use of Trusts in your Estate Planning. Wills can be challenged, Trusts cannot. Many Trusts also allow for protection against one beneficiary squandering the inheritance for the next generation.
  • If you have deliberately excluded someone from your Will, explain your reasons and rationale.
  • Take professional advice! A professional Will Writer will take clear and documented notes outside of just your Will, which will detail the entire estate planning process, your wishes and how the planning is executed. Proper planning, professionally executed with all the supporting documentation in place is much harder to challenge after death, than a DIY Will you wrote yourself on the computer at home!

For more information on Wills and Estate Planning, you can book onto one of our free Will Review Workshops, just check out our events calendar for our upcoming events or call the office on 01489 877547 to arrange a free Initial Meeting.




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The Financial Conduct Authority do not regulate, Will Writing, Buy to Let Mortgages, Auto-Enrolment, Tax Advice and Estate Planning. Your capital is at risk. Investments can fluctuate in value and investors may not get the amount back they invest. The guidance and/or advice contained within the website is subject to the UK regulatory regime and is therefore primarily targeted at customers in the UK.

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