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Comedian’s passing without a will a lesson to us all says Staines legal expert

A leading Staines law firm has said it hopes the death of a well-known actor and comedian can help highlight what it calls ‘the avoidable heartache’ of the thousands who die each year without a will.

Patrick Cotran, an expert in Wills at Dale and Newbery said the family of Rik Mayall, could face paying out many thousands of pounds in inheritance tax, after it emerged he had not made a Will when he died last summer.

“The absence of a Will has inevitably led to media speculation about potential inheritance taxes, which could be due on his £1.2m estate,” said Mr Cotran.

“It appears possible that the family may have lost tens of thousands of pounds to the government and this could have been easily avoided,” he said.

He said that in a case such as Rik Mayall’s – where a married parent dies without a Will, a portion of their assets can go straight to their children, which in turn can trigger a potential tax liability.

Mr Cotran added that lawyers have always advised people that they should have a valid Will to avoid tax pitfalls and other problems, such as family disputes.

“As solicitors who specialise in Wills, planning and inheritance tax this avoidable heartache is regrettably something we see far too much of,” he added.

“Everyone with assets really should make a Will to ensure that those who they want to benefit will do so.”

Rik Mayall, who was just 56, will have his personal estate divided according to Government intestacy rules.

“Whilst his children would be entitled to a share of his net estate of £1,192,701, they could inherit an amount which will give rise to an inheritance liability” said Mr Cotran.

As the law stands, if the amount inherited by his children is more than the inheritance tax limit of £325,000, then there will be inheritance tax to pay.

“Estate planning is vital for many and should not be delayed nor should the making of a Will,” Mr Cotran added.

“The great relief seeing a solicitor and ensuring one’s estate is in order is so very important to loved ones,” he said.

“We hope if there is anything to be learned from the tale of Rik Mayall it is that people will realise that these circumstances are not uncommon.”

“The responsibility to make a Will is with all of us and whatever your age or circumstances you should not put it off. It really is too important.”