Lessons to be learnt from the intestacy of Caroline Flack

Matthew Barnett, partner & Jessica Brittain, associate, Edwin Coe, 20/11/2020

Caroline Flack, the TV and radio presenter, probably best known as the host of Love Island and the winner of the Strictly Come Dancing “glitter ball” in 2014, very sadly took her own life in February this year.

It has been reported that letters of administration in relation to Ms Flack’s estate have recently been granted to the TV star’s mother. Having not prepared a Will, Ms Flack’s net estate of just over £827,000 (£2million before debts and inheritance tax) will pass in accordance with the statutory intestacy rules of England and Wales.

Our understanding is that, under these rules, Ms Flack’s parents will inherit her estate and Flack’s mother has been quoted in the press as saying that the estate will be used “wisely to help good causes that Caroline was passionate about”.

This unfortunate situation illustrates a number of important estate planning points:

- The potentially (and very often) unsuitable consequences of the fixed statutory intestacy rules;

- The need to put in place an appropriate Will; to appoint the most appropriate executors and ensure the estate is inherited by those the deceased would want to benefit;

- The UK inheritance tax (IHT) consequences of gifts to charity; and

- The possibility and opportunities of varying dispositions taking effect on death.

This article seeks to remind readers to take appropriate advice in advance and to ensure a valid Will is in place.

Who benefits from the deceased’s estate?

Where a deceased (in England and Wales) had not prepared a Will during their lifetime, the statutory intestacy rules will determine who will benefit from the estate. These rules are fixed and unlikely, in most cases, to meet the deceased’s wishes.

Ms Flack was unmarried, but left behind a partner, parents and three siblings, including a twin sister. Under the intestacy rules, because she was not married, did not have any children and was survived by her parents, all of her estate including her property in North London will ...

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