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13 May 2013

Will you remember to make a will?

This month marked Dying Matters Awareness Week. Set up in 2009 by the National Council for Palliative Care, the Dying Matters Coalition has nearly 30,000 members and aims to change public knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards dying, death and bereavement.

B P Collins has been a member of the coalition for several years and its private client team is keen to encourage individuals of all ages to take time to consider issues such as protecting and distributing their wealth, making a will and taking out a Lasting Power of Attorney to cover financial and/or personal welfare.

Associate solicitor, Julie Congreves, said: “Making a will is especially important. Obtaining professional legal advice from a qualified wills expert is the best way to safeguard your assets and ensure your wishes will be acted upon when the time comes.

“Planning ahead will not only make things easier for those left behind, but it is also less likely to create complications at a later date.”

Of course, not everyone takes such good advice – including the rich and famous, as these examples demonstrate:

Pablo Picasso – died intestate and without a will in 1973 aged 91, leaving a fortune which included artwork, homes, cash, gold and bonds. It took six years to settle his estate at a cost of US$30 million and his assets were eventually divided up between six heirs.

Jimi Hendrix – it took more than 30 years for the battle over Hendrix’s estate to come to a conclusion as he left no will regarding the distribution of his estate. Like many other famous names, the case has been further complicated by the money his estate continued to generate long after his death.

Bob Marley – even though he knew he had cancer, Marley died intestate and his estate, worth a reported US$30 million, had dozens of claimants.

Stieg Larsson – the author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and other books, died in 2004 without a valid will. It meant that according to Swedish law, his estate was divided between his father and his brother, leaving his lifelong partner of 32 years with nothing, although the family did grant her ownership of the couple’s apartment.

Julie concludes, “Famous or not, everyone should take time to make a will - we might not all have comparable assets to Pablo Picasso, but it’s important that we leave our assets to those we wish to inherit.”

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