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As many will recall, Sir Bruce Forsyth sadly passed away on 18 August 2017 after battling ill-health. He was survived by his wife and his 6 children. Nearly a year after his death, the terms of his Will have allegedly been revealed. 

It was recently reported that Bruce Forsyth did not leave any of his substantial estate to his children. According to reports, his Will directed that £100,000 is to be placed in a Trust, with each of his 9 grandchildren receiving their share when they reach the age of 21. His two appointed Executors are to inherit £20,000 each. The remainder of his estate is then to be passed to his wife. It is believed that his estate was over £11 million.

My last Will imageAs Bruce Forsyth left most of his estate to his wife, it is likely that his estate will benefit from Inheritance Tax exemptions.

The current threshold for Inheritance Tax is £325,000 – this is known as the “nil rate band”. If the value of an estate is below the threshold, then no Inheritance Tax is payable. If an estate is over £325,000 then the estate is potentially liable to pay Inheritance Tax. The standard Inheritance Tax payable on estates is 40% of the value of the estate over the threshold.

The estate passing to a spouse or civil partner on death would be exempt from Inheritance Tax. Furthermore, as the transfer is exempt from Inheritance Tax, this does not affect the individual’s nil rate band. When the second spouse or civil partner dies, their estate would therefore benefit from their own nil rate band and the previously unused nil rate band. As such, the second estate may have up to £650,000 exempt from Inheritance Tax, which is likely to provide substantial savings to an estate, or potentially mean that an estate is exempt from Inheritance Tax altogether.

So what about children who are not entitled to any of the estate under a Will?

The law relating to estates is different in Scotland and England. In particular, the entitlement of Bruce Forsyth’s children would differ in Scotland.

In Scotland, children have a right to the estate which is called Legal Rights. This is regardless of whether a Will was made or not. This is to protect against disinheritance, and children have 20 years from the date of death to make a claim against the estate for Legal Rights.

Legal Rights entitles children to a share of the moveable estate (which is generally everything excluding land and buildings). If the individual was survived by a spouse or civil partner then the Legal Rights claim would be for a share of one-third of the moveable estate. If there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, then the Legal Rights claim would be for a share of one- half of the moveable estate. 

Legal Rights can be claimed by the children even if there is a Will in place directing that the estate is to be paid to someone else. If there is no Will, children can still make a claim for Legal Rights, however the surviving spouse or civil partner’s rights to the estate take priority, therefore in smaller estates there is a risk that children may not receive anything. 

If you wish to receive estate planning advice, or you wish to make a claim for Legal Rights, you can get in touch with one of our specialist solicitors on 0800 089 1331 who will be able to provide you with clear, detailed advice.

Blog by Amy Wardrop, Solicitor

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