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‘Tiger King’ and the importance of Estate Planning

  • 8th Jun 2020

With the Coronavirus outbreak, many of us are finding that we have more time to delve into those ‘must watch’ box sets.  One clear favourite in recent times has been the infamous ‘Tiger King’.

To recap for those who may not have seen it, Tiger King premiered on Netflix and is based on true events featuring a zoo keeper named Joe Exotic and his nemesis Carole Baskin who had been trying to have the zoo closed.  The relationship between the two became heated and Joe is currently serving time for trying to arrange Carole’s death.

Part of the bigger picture exploring Carole’s life focused on the disappearance of her second husband, Don, who went missing, after which Carole was left his Estate. This was worth millions under the terms of his will, which failed to benefit his own children, and Carole was the subject of allegations surrounding Don’s will and his disappearance.  It has since been announced that Don’s will was faked, but no legal action can be now taken due to the length of time that has passed.

Interestingly, in England, the Forfeiture Rule will prevent any criminal from benefiting from their crime. This means that if someone is proven to have unlawfully killed another person, they would not then be entitled to benefit from the death of their victim and would forfeit any inheritance that they would otherwise have been entitled to, either under the terms of their Will or by the Intestacy Rules.

Although the Tiger King documentary has been the subject of huge speculation and entertainment, it highlights a message from which we can all benefit, regarding the protection of our wishes on our deaths.

At Wards Solicitors, our specialists in our Wills and Probate Team are experienced in the drafting of Wills to ensure they are not only valid in their preparation and signing in accordance with legal formalities but also fully protect your wishes. If we were to ever act for a person who was concerned that somebody might fake their Will, we would deposit it and store it at the Probate Registry for them. This ensures the Will would come to light when Probate is applied for.

If there is ever a dispute around a Will our Contentious Probate Team can help.

When discussing a Will with a client, we must ensure that they satisfy all the tests for mental capacity to protect against any future challenge of incapacity in the future. Further, if there are concerns that a person is being unduly influenced to make their Will or change their existing Will, our specialists will take steps to explore this further to minimise the risk of future challenge to the Will.

We will only take instructions from the client and discuss these with them individually, will always discuss the reasons behind instructions and would advise on any further steps that may be needed to safeguard those wishes.

Although Wards is currently operating differently during the pandemic, our clients and their wishes remain at the forefront of our services and we continue to offer specialist advice in the drafting of Wills. We continue to liaise with our clients and take new instructions and are offering video and telephone conference calls where this may be of benefit during these uncertain times.

For all Will enquiries, please contact Jenny Pierce at jenny.pierce@wards.uk.com or 0117 9292811 to be be put in touch with a member of the Wills and Probate team.

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UPDATE October 2020

We have now re-opened our branches to clients but all appointments and visits must be pre-booked to comply with government guidance.

Availability for face-to- face meetings in branches will be limited and remote contact with teams – via phone, email or video call – is preferred wherever possible.  Our prime concern remains the safety of our clients and our staff.

Please note that all visitors to our offices must, by law, wear a face covering.

We cannot accept drop-in visits from clients without an appointment being made in advance. If you have documents for us, including for ID certification, please deliver them to our letterbox

How to get in touch:

  • Please email or telephone your usual lawyer or team, or
  • Please telephone the branch most convenient to you between 9am and 5:30pm, or email info@wards.uk.com at any time and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you.  A list of our 11 branches is available here.

Thank you.

Wards Solicitors LLP