Princes, paternity leave and the need for a will

19th September 2013

“On hearing that Prince William was returning to work, following the birth of Prince George, I wondered whether he had taken time during his paternity leave to go and make a will”, said Shelly Wainwright, a wills and probate specialist with Ansons Solicitors.

Of course, he should have made a will when he married Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, as should anyone who has a change in their family circumstances. However, this is even more important when children arrive on the scene, and should be done as soon as possible, particularly if either partner has more than £250,000 in assets.

If an individual dies without making a will then, according to the rules of intestacy, their whole estate does not automatically pass to the surviving spouse as many people assume.

In the case of Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge would receive his personal effects and just £250,000 outright. The value of the estate over this would then be divided equally. Half would pass to Prince George and the other half would be held on a life interest trust for Kate who could only have the income from interest earned. She would not be able to touch the capital which would be passed down to Prince George when she dies.

Also, what about Prince Harry? He is currently a single man, with no children, in a potentially dangerous occupation. Without a will, Prince Harry’s estate would pass to his father Prince Charles, If Prince Harry wants to leave his own legacy and support his favourite charities then he needs to make a will saying so.

Fortunately, the royal family have a team of legal advisors at hand and will have considered their options and made their wills. However, the intestacy rules apply to all estates when there is no will and so everyone should be aware that their wishes may not take effect without one.

Whatever your circumstances, it is always better to have a clear and up-to-date will setting out all of your wishes and making proper financial provision for your surviving spouse and children. The cost of making a will is a small price to pay compared with the legal costs of unravelling an estate that does not have a will.