Charlotte Macalister

Charlotte Macalister

Solicitor – Wills, Trusts and Probate

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In this Blog Charlotte Macalister, of our Wills, Trusts & Probate Department, discusses the sad passing of Rik Mayall and the implications of not leaving a Will.

Comedian and Actor, Rik Mayall, died suddenly in 2014 without making a Will.  It has been reported his estate was worth £1.2 million.  The Blackadder star was 56 years old and was married to Barbara with 3 children.  No doubt Rik had making a Will on his list of things to do but never got around to it.

Not having a Will in place means that your property and assets pass in accordance with the laws of ‘intestacy’.  This means that your estate may pass to family members (usually blood relatives) that you do not have any contact with or do not get on with – and it could leave your loved ones in financial difficulty.

What Happens to Rik’s Estate?

Rik’s wife will inherit certain assets that were held in joint names, as well as a fixed sum legacy of £250,000 and his personal belongings. The balance of his estate will then be divided up – half for his wife and half for his 3 children (at the age of 18).

This may leave Barbara in a vulnerable position and potentially in financial difficulty as she is not inheriting the entire £1.2 million. If the matrimonial home was held in Rik’s sole name and is worth more than £250,000, the house could end up being owned jointly by Barbara and his children.  In some families, this could cause a lot of friction.

What About Inheritance Tax?

Making a Will can help to prevent inheritance tax being payable on the death of the first spouse. Gifts in a Will either outright or via a life interest asset protection trust qualify for spouse exemption.

In Rik’s case his estate passes in part to his wife and part to his children.  The share of his estate passing to his children may well trigger an inheritance tax liability.  Assets might need to be sold to pay the tax if there are insufficient cash assets.

You may not be a world-famous comedian, your estate may not be worth £1.2 million, but everybody should write a Will.  Making a Will gives you piece of mind that your loved ones are cared for and that your affairs are in good order. 

For individual advice and assistance contact our Wills, Probate and Trusts Team to find out how we can help.