Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
Barbara Millicent “Barbie” Roberts and Kenneth Sean “Ken” Carson have been in a relationship for as long as we can remember, but as far as we know, they have never actually tied the knot.
We know that Barbie has the Barbie Dreamhouse, the Barbie Dreamplane and she has several Barbie automobiles! We often see her driving her beau Ken around and taking him on multiple holidays every year.
We have also seen Barbie holding down over 200 jobs over the years without ever seeing Ken do much more than surfing… it could be said therefore that Barbie has been maintaining Ken for a little over 60 years!
She’s been so busy over the years and has amassed what we can only assume to be quite a fortune. So, what does Barbie need to consider for her future planning and in terms of protection for her loved ones?
If she arranged an appointment to see Solicitor Barbie or Legal Executive Barbie, then they would advise her at the very least to create a Will. This would include providing for her family, friends, loved ones, and any charities that she supports.
A Will would ensure that Barbie’s assets pass in accordance with her wishes. If Barbie was to say that she didn’t want to include Ken in her Will, what would Legal Adviser Barbie tell her?
They would advise that ultimately, provided she has testamentary capacity, she can leave her Estate to whomever she wishes, but she must be aware of the very real possibility that matters could become contentious following her death and Ken would potentially have a claim against her Estate.
Barbie would need to be advised in accordance with the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Very clear instructions would need to be taken and in-depth file notes made, and it would be wise for Barbie to have a “Letter of Wishes” prepared to go alongside her, Will.
Barbie would be told that such Letter of Wishes is not a legally binding document but would be produced to the Court as evidence on death if a claim against her Estate were to be made.
If Barbie were not to have a Will prepared, then she would die as Intestate Barbie and her Estate would be dealt with in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy, in which a specific order must be followed and is governed by statute.
If Barbie and Ken were married, then he would receive her chattels and a statutory legacy of £322,000 (from Wednesday 26th July 2023) and the balance of any further assets would be divided between Ken and any children they have.
As it happens, we don’t believe that Barbie and Ken are married, nor do we believe that they have any children. Following the Rules of Intestacy, it would be likely that Barbie’s parents, George and Margaret would inherit her entire Estate or if they had both predeceased, her siblings Skipper, Stacey, and Chelsea, in equal shares.
Again, this leaves problems for Ken as he has been maintained by Barbie so significantly for so long, and is very possible that he would have a valid claim against her Estate under the 1975 Act.
It is important for her to note that if Barbie and Ken hold any assets together as joint owners, then those assets pass in accordance with the rules of survivorship, and the balance of Barbie’s Estate that is not held jointly with Ken would pass either in accordance with her Will or the Rules of Intestacy.
Barbie would also need to be advised in relation to her Inheritance Tax position. Barbie would be told that each individual has a “Nil Rate Band” of £325,000 and anything over and above this threshold is taxed at 40%.
If Barbie and Ken were married, and they left their entire Estates to each other on the death of the first of them, then they would have access to what is known as the “Transferable Nil Rate Band”.
Gifts during lifetime and on death between spouses are non-taxable, so on the death of the survivor, the Personal Representatives can claim the first spouse’s Nil Rate Band essentially doubling the threshold before tax is paid, to a maximum of £650,000.
If Barbie and Ken had made provision to leave property to a direct descendant (child, grandchild, great-grandchild, etc.) then the “Residential Nil Rate Band” would also apply and can be claimed by the Personal Representatives for both the first spouse to die and the second, taking the threshold before Inheritance Tax is paid up to a maximum of £1,000,000 depending on Barbie’s circumstances and any lifetime gifts made in the 7 years prior to her death.
If Barbie decided she wanted to leave a minimum of 10% of her Estate to Save the Children (a charity that she and her parent company Mattel have been donating to for a number of years), then her personal representatives would be entitled to claim a reduced rate for Inheritance Tax, at a rate of 36% rather than 40%. In addition, any gift made in Barbie’s Will to charity would be wholly exempt from Inheritance Tax.
Ultimately, Barbie should seek the expert advice of Wilson Browne Solicitors Private Client Team, who will be able to talk to her in clear terms about the above matters and many more things that she has probably been far too busy to think about.
Ken should also seek advice from Wilson Browne if he wants to ensure Barbie is protected upon his death too!