Talking of turkeys - the risks of inadequate succession planning

Bernard Matthews of bootiful turkey fame came back into the headlines recently from beyond the grave as his heirs disputed his £40million fortune. He had tried to persuade his three adopted children by an early marriage, and his natural son by an informal relationship, to allow his French mistress of 20 years standing to be sole beneficiary of his €15million villa in France and £1million more besides.

Perhaps not unexpectedly the 3 adopted (legal) children were not prepared to lose their rights under French law to a major share of the property, even though the natural child was. The problem was Mr Matthews tried to dispose of his estate by an English Will and “letters of wishes” which had no binding effect under French law, which the English Court was obliged to uphold.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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