Caroline Flack, the TV presenter, perhaps best known as the host of Love Island sadly died in February 2020.

It has been reported that Caroline’s net state is worth just over £827,000 (£2,000,000 before liabilities and inheritance tax) and Letters of Administration was granted to her mother.

As Caroline did not make a Will, her estate will pass in accordance with the statutory intestacy rules of England and Wales. Under these rules, we understand the Love Island Presenter’s parents will inherit her estate.

Would Caroline have wanted her estate to be divided between her parents alone? Would she have wanted her siblings, her partner or any of her friends to benefit from her estate? As Caroline did not make a Will, her loved ones may never know how she would have wanted her estate to be distributed.

This unfortunate situation illustrates the necessity to put in place an appropriate Will, at least to ensure the following:

  • the most appropriate executors are appointed;
  • that your wishes are clear and the estate is inherited by those you would want to benefit; and
  • to minimise the payment of unnecessary inheritance tax

This Blog seeks to remind our readers to take advice in relation to estate planning, and to ensure a valid Will is in place.

Who benefits from the deceased’s estate?

When someone dies without making a Will in England and Wales (known as dying intestate), the law provides rules for how their estate will be distributed (known as intestacy rules). These rules dictate who gets what from the deceased’s estate, and who is entitled to administer the deceased’s estate. In many cases, these rules are unlikely to meet the deceased’s wishes. Caroline Flack was unmarried, but left behind a partner, parents and three siblings, including a twin sister.

Under the intestacy rules, as Caroline was not married, did not have any children and was survived by her parents, all of her estate will pass to her parents. Her partner and siblings will not receive anything, which may, or may not, have been what she would really have wanted.

Who administers the estate?

Executors can only be appointed in a Will (or Codicil) and can then apply for a ‘Grant of Probate’. Since Caroline had not made a Will, the entitlement to administer her intestate estate is provided by law. Generally, the persons entitled to a share in the estate are also the persons formally able to apply to administer the estate.

In Caroline’s case, her parents were entitled to apply for Letters of Administration, and it has been reported her mother has applied to administer her estate. Again, this may, or may not have been what Caroline would really have wanted.

UK inheritance tax

Depending on the value and type of assets owned by a deceased, inheritance tax is payable at 40% (subject to reliefs and exemptions) within 6 months of the death and prior to any application for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

In this case, as the estate passes to Caroline’s parents, there would be an inheritance tax liability. However, Caroline’s mother has been quoted in the press as saying that the estate will be used “wisely to help good causes that Caroline was passionate about”. It is important to note that charities are exempt beneficiaries for the purposes of inheritance tax and if a Will had been prepared to this effect, any assets left to charity would have been exempt from inheritance tax, and there would no need to pay inheritance tax on those assets prior to obtaining Probate.

Having a Will ensures that the deceased’s wishes are clear and that loved ones do not have to consider difficult questions, such as: What would my child have wanted? Am I making the right decision?

If you would like to speak to someone about making a Will, or a loved one of yours has sadly passed away and did not have a will, please contact Rezwana Dithy or any other member of our Wills and Probate team who will be happy to assist.