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Law Societys Downton Abbey message


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Published 2nd January 2014

Following a theme addressed in popular ITV drama Downton Abbey recently, The Law Society is advising the public about the importance of writing a will.

The programme features the untimely death of a young husband and father who secured his wife as legal heir to his estate and joint owner of Downton Abbey by setting out his wishes for the family estate in the event of his death. The storyline highlights the importance of making a will and the potential consequences of not doing so.

Law Society president Nicholas Fluck says the character’s decision to set out his wishes in a will is a message to millions of TV viewers that writing a will is a hugely important task that every adult should fulfil:  'The predicament facing the Crawley Family immediately following Matthew's death shows that, while few of us like to think about our own mortality, seeking the expert advice of a solicitor to make a will means our estate, whether it be treasured belongings or home, will pass to those we chose.

'In this day and age, when couples live together without being married and one of them dies without drawing up a will, the rules of intestacy mean that the other partner will not automatically receive anything. Equally concerning is the fact that, if you are married, or in a civil partnership, the rules mean that if you have children, your spouse or civil partner will only inherit your personal possessions and the first £250,000 of your estate outright and beyond that only a life interest in half of the remaining estate (no capital). This underlines the importance of formalising your wishes by speaking to a solicitor.

'By talking to a solicitor, wishes can be expressed in a way that will not cause problems for family and friends after a person's death. A solicitor will advise on how inheritance tax affects an estate, whether tax can be reduced or avoided and how to safeguard the care of children.'

By Alistair Dobson

About the Author

Lawson-West specialise in commercial, business and employment law. Our team of dedicated commercial solicitors can help with buying or selling a business, business law and disputes, landlord and tenant issues and commercial property. Our expert employment team can offer practical advice and guidance on all aspects of employment law including redundancy, compromise agreements and dismissal procedures. Visit for more information.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2014-01-28 09:10:47 in Legal Articles

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