Inheritance Difficulties Highlighted By Legend’s Legacy

Spotlight Falls On Inheritance Issues After Taylor's Death

28.03.2011

The death of Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor could inadvertently put the spotlight on some of the complexities that can arise when it comes to dividing assets; will disputes specialists at Irwin Mitchell have suggested.

Famed for her life off-screen as well as on, Cleopatra and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof star Taylor, who passed away on March 23rd, was married eight times to seven husbands and also had four children, ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

These multiple marriages, as well as her strong links to organisations including AIDS charities, mean that many reports since her death have focused on how her inheritance could be divided between those in her personal life and her other interests.

According to Irwin Mitchell’s Will, Trust and Estate Disputes team, the complex map of Elizabeth’s life is not as uncommon as it may first appear.

Louise Sykes, Partner and Head of the Will, Trust and Estate Disputes Team and on the committee for the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists, said: “While very few will disputes are over the vast multimillion dollar assets seen here, the scenario faced by Elizabeth’s family does raise important issues which are becoming increasingly common in the cases we are involved in.

“The death of a person who has been married multiple times often leaves a complex network of extended family and others who may feel they are entitled to an inheritance following their passing.

“In addition, we deal with cases in which people have indicated that they want a major share of their estate to be passed on to charities or other organisations close to their heart. Such a move can often lead to problems if family members do not agree.”

Louise suggested that the best way to avoid such difficulties is to carefully consider the difficulties and disputes which may arise after your death and approach these issues with the relevant family members and loved ones as soon as possible.

“So many of our cases come about due to a lack of clarity in wills or the failure of people to adequately communicate their wishes  to loved ones before they die,” she explained.

“The most obvious way around it is to sit down with all of the parties concerned during the will writing process to ensure they are fully aware of how assets should be divided, as well as the clear reasons why the decision has been taken.

“While this can be undoubtedly difficult in some situations, it is something that people should seriously consider if they want to prevent their loved ones from facing a time-consuming and often frustrating and costly battle through the courts.

“We would urge anyone who has not yet considered writing a will to seriously consider the benefits of doing so and include as many of their loved ones in the process as possible.”

If you are involved in a will dispute or need further information about contesting a will, please visit our Will, Trust & Estate Disputes section