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4 lessons we can learn from recent high profile deaths

Posted by Kings Court Trust | 03-Oct-2018 10:10:09

There are a number of lessons that members of the public can learn from the recent celebrity deaths that have hit the headlines. That’s why this blog post explores the considerations that are raised from these high profile deaths:

  • Firstly, the iconic singer, Aretha Franklin, reportedly had not created a Will before her death, highlighting the importance of ensuring your wishes are heard.

  • Secondly, BBC presenter, Rachael Bland, died from cancer and had openly discussed plans for her death. This brings to light the debate about whether more people should openly discuss death.

  • Thirdly, American rapper, Mac Miller, tragically died of a suspected drug overdose at the age of 26. Surprisingly, he did have a Will which emphasises the fact that more young people need to create Wills.

  • Finally, TV legend, Bruce Forsyth, protected his estate from excessive Inheritance Tax costs by passing his fortune to his wife. This stresses the need for people to understand the rules associated with Inheritance Tax.


1. Aretha Franklin - Died without a Will

In August 2018, the Queen of Soul passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. Somewhat surprisingly, it is believed that Aretha Franklin had not left a valid Will. This could result in her estate being distributed between her four surviving children, as per the rules set out by Michigan State Law. The intestacy could potentially prompt a legal battle over her assets by others seeking a portion of her estate. Aretha Franklin’s estate could be deemed similar to that of musician, Prince, as he died without a Will in April 2016 and the battle over Prince’s estate is still ongoing. The lesson from these intestacy cases is to create a valid Will and update it appropriately as significant changes in your life take place. By creating a Will, your wishes will be heard, it is likely to be easier on your family and it can avoid disputes over inheritance.


2. Rachael Bland – Made preparations with her family

At the beginning of September, Rachael Bland died at the age of 40 after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016. Rachael Bland was most well-known as a newsreader and presenter for BBC Radio 5 Live and for her work with reducing the stigma around cancer by co-hosting the ‘You, Me and the Big C” podcast. Rachael openly discussed her cancer and inevitable passing in both her blog and podcast, as well as making preparations with her family. Rachael’s death brings to the light the need for more people to openly discuss death and to make plans to protect their loved ones when the time comes.  


3. Mac Miller – Created a Will at the young age of 21

On the 7th September 2018, the American rapper died of a suspected drug overdose at the age of 26. It has now been revealed that Mac Miller’s Will names his parents and brother as the main beneficiaries to his estate. The family are expected to inherit his £6.9 million fortune, including all properties, money and possessions. Somewhat surprisingly, Mac Miller created his Will back in 2013 when he would have been around 21 years of age and before his fame had reached its peak. The fact that Mac Miller had created a Will is surprising as recent research shows that young people are much less likely to create a Will. Only 24% of adults under the age of 35 have a valid Will, compared to 75% of adults over the age of 55. Mac Miller’s tragic death highlights the need for more young adults to create Wills. It’s important that no matter your age or wealth, you should ensure that your wishes are heard and your assets are protected. A valid Will that clearly outlines your wishes can offer clarity, avoid family disputes and protect your estate from excessive legal and tax costs.


4. Sir Bruce Forsyth – Avoided a hefty Inheritance Tax bill

The legendary presenter passed away on the 18th of August 2017 and earlier this year, details of Bruce Forsyth’s Will were revealed. Sir Bruce left his £11.7 million estate to his wife, rather than his six children, which may have saved the family from a hefty Inheritance Tax bill. Typically, there is no Inheritance Tax to pay if you leave everything to your spouse or civil partner and Sir Bruce’s wife, Lady Wilnelia, is able to gift up to £650,000 to Bruce’s children without being subject to Inheritance Tax. It’s important to carefully consider how your wishes will impact your family, as Sir Bruce Forsyth’s case highlights. It is likely that Sir Bruce was aware of the rules associated with Inheritance Tax and passed his estate to his wife in order to maximise the value of his estate. 


Kings Court Trust are one of the UK’s leading estate administration providers and our sole purpose is to help families move on. With our unrivalled knowledge of estate administration, we can advise on any situation. If you have any questions regarding estate administration, call our Client Services Team on 0300 303 9000.

Author: Kings Court Trust

Kings Court Trust is an award-winning probate and estate administration provider that support families at the difficult time of losing a loved one. Our tax and legal teams have the expertise to advise on any situation. We are committed to offering families a great service for a fair price which is why we work on a fixed fee basis so they know exactly what our service will cost from the outset.