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Estate challenges: not just for the rich & famous
Article date: 21/10/2016
Less than a year since magician Paul Daniels died from a brain tumour, the celebrity's son says he hasn't received a penny from his £1.5m estate.
And Paul Daniels Jr has hit out at his father's widow Debbie McGee, claiming that her promise to 'look after him' have come to nothing.
It follows similar claims made earlier this year by the sons of Oxo mum Lynda Bellingham, when they revealed they were in dispute with their stepfather over their mother's will , which left her entire estate to her husband.
Both cases highlight the rising number of legal challenges being made against wills, and not just those of the rich and famous. Because the prevalence of modern day, blended step-families is resulting in disgruntled children, seemingly cut out of a relative's will, the Courts are seeing a higher case of people taking action to dispute property and cash being left to 'second' families.
Harman Bains, a solicitor in the private client team at Midlands law firm Higgs & Sons and an expert in wills and probate, comments: "The law in England and Wales does not demand that you leave anything for family or dependants if you don't want to. Put simply, you can leave your worldly goods to anyone you choose.
"It is expected that a person would make reasonable provision for a dependant or family member, and if someone failed to do so it is possible for such a family member or dependant to make a claim against the estate in Court.
"Whether or not a claim was successful would depend upon many different circumstances. But be warned, the law does recognise that, under some circumstances, it is considered reasonable to leave no provision at all."
Harman's advice, particularly to clients with second spouses and step children, is to always seek legal support when preparing a will, in order to ensure your wishes are carried out to the letter.
He said: "In the case of second families, mirror wills leaving everything to each other, do not give protection if the survivor remarries - as we have seen in the case of Paul Daniels and Lynda Bellingham.
"But be assured, the right will can be drafted to protect the assets of a parent who wants to provide for a second family but who ultimately wants to pass on those assets to natural children, perhaps following the death of a second spouse."
Picture caption: Harman Bains, Solicitor, Private Client