James Antoniou, head of wills, Co-op Legal Services comments on news that Daniel Craig does not want his children to inherit his wealth
19 August 2021
JAMES ANTONIOU OF CO-OP LEGAL SERVICES OFFERS LEGAL COMMENT ON NEWS THAT JAMES BOND STAR, DANIEL CRAIG, DOES NOT WANT HIS CHILDREN TO INHERIT HIS WEALTH
James Antoniou, Head of Wills and Estate Planning, Co-op Legal Services, said: “Individuals are free to dispose of their money at the end of their life, as they wish. However, people who do not intend to pass on their assets to family members or loved ones should be aware that there are in fact laws in place to protect certain people from being disinherited or being left an unreasonable amount, so they need to be careful not to store up issues which may come to light after they have passed away.
“Laws in England and Wales give individuals ‘testamentary freedom’ which means they’re free to leave their estate to whoever they choose. However, another law called the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act of 1975 can counter balance this by enabling certain categories of people to bring a claim against someone’s estate if they feel that they have not been left reasonable financial provision under the will. This includes the deceased's children or someone treated as the deceased's child such as a step-child or foster child. Where a claim of this type is made the Court will consider the facts of each case and decide what is reasonable.
“Whilst other than through divorce proceedings, you cannot take away someone’s legal right under the 1975 Act to bring a claim, you can take steps to make it more difficult for any claim against a will being successful and this is why it is so imperative that individuals should ensure they have one. A will remains the only legally recognised way for people to set out their wishes on how they want their estate to be divided up once they’ve passed away.”
Three steps individuals can take to make it more difficult for any claim against their will being successful:
• Ensure their will is professionally written with a regulated provider so that a clear and detailed record is kept by someone independent which details that they have mental capacity to make decisions and that they are not acting under someone else’s influence.
• Write a separate letter (which can be stored alongside their will) explaining in detail why they have decided to exclude a certain person or persons from their will.
• In the same letter, include detailed reasons why they have decided to include certain beneficiaries. For example, if they have decided to leave their estate to charity, make it clear why they have chosen that charity and the extent to which they have an existing relationship with them.
Co-op Legal Services is the largest regulated provider of wills, estate planning and probate services in the UK.