A Lesson Learned – the Importance of a Valid Will

by Iain Younger, Director at Frank Hirth

The sad death of a music icon has further highlighted the need to plan for your succession.

Despite having significant wealth, a diverse asset base and, I'm sure, a large team of advisors, it has been widely reported that Aretha Franklin died without having a valid Will in place.

Her estate will now be subject to the applicable rules of intestacy of the jurisdiction that will govern her estate, which means that her assets may not be distributed in the manner she had intended. This can cause a significant administrative burden and emotional heartache for those left behind.

This necessity of a valid Will cannot be under estimated to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death.

Certainly, there can be advantageous tax planning that can be undertaken and should be considered. However, there are also definite non-tax matters that can be covered by a Will (i.e. guardianship of children, charitable giving etc.).

If you do have a Will in place, this must be reviewed regularly to ensure that it remains fit for purposes and is appropriate for your current asset base and circumstances.

Life events, such as the birth of a child or change in asset base should be a trigger to review and update any planning that may already be in place.

If assets are held in multiple jurisdictions, especially real estate, advice will be needed in those other countries to ensure what is put in place considers all eventualities and the relevant tax regimes. It is also important for you to consider the logistical issues that your executors may face in trying to obtain probate in certain jurisdictions. Having an effective plan for your wills could ease this burden.

Frank Hirth would be happy to advise on any US and UK tax considerations of succession planning. We can also introduce you to appropriate legal advisors to implement your planning and undertake any necessary drafting.

If you would like to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


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