The importance of taking advice on your will structure
Paul Daniels’ son appears to be gearing up to bring a claim against his late father’s estate on the basis that his stepmother, Debbie McGee has not supported him financially since his father’s death in March, according to reports in The Telegraph this week.
Paul Daniels left three children from his first marriage and his eldest son (who is making the allegations) had been working for his father since the 1970s as an assistant stage manager. Paul Daniels’ son alleges that his stepmother said she would look after him and his siblings after their father’s death but he claims that his stepmother has cancelled his mobile phone contract and has left him unemployed, after the family magic shop that Paul Daniels and his son set up together was closed down, two months after his death. Paul Daniels’ son alleges that his stepmother promised she would keep the shop running, bearing in mind he set it up with his father.
The reports highlight an interesting area of probate law where children can bring a claim against their parents’ estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for reasonable financial provision. The report highlights the importance of taking advice on your will structure, including the possible use of a trust structure so your trustees can take into account the circumstances at the date of your death, particularly where there is a second marriage (as in this situation). In this instance, his son was reliant on an income from the shop to pay his living expenses. He now alleges that he has no money to pay his rent after his stepmother stopped supporting him financially. Paul Daniels left his entire estate, thought to be worth in the region £1.5m, outright to his second wife which means any maintenance for Paul Daniels’ son will be at her discretion.
It is not known whether Paul Daniels’ son will formally bring a claim against his father’s estate but the circumstances should act as a warning for those with children from previous relationships, particularly where family businesses are concerned, to review their circumstances regularly and keep in mind the need to update their wills.