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Wills, Probate & Trust

Michael Gambon and the Magic of Will-Writing

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Albus Dumbledore once said that words are our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it. That rings especially true when those words are written in a Will.

Michael Gambon, best known for his role as Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise, has left his £1.5m fortune to his wife of 61 years, Anne Gambon. Which in and of itself may not be newsworthy, however, many were shocked to find that Gambon’s long-term girlfriend of two decades, Phillipa Hart, was left nothing despite the star splitting his time equally between the two and also having two children with Hart.

What is a Will?

A Will makes sure that your assets and personal possession are disposed of in the way that you choose in the event of your death. Provided you have the required mental capacity to make this decision, you can leave your estate to whomever you choose. However, it is important that this is drafted correctly be a legal professional as your Will can still be open to challenge even if you do have the requisite capacity to choose how you want your estate to be divided and your wishes are clear.

It is a common misconception that a ‘common law wife or husband’ would automatically inherit in the event of their partner dying. Under legislation in England and Wales, Hart could potentially have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 if their relationship meets the criteria.

What does the law say?

The Act provides that a cohabitee of the deceased could make a claim if reasonable financial provision is not made for them in their Will or under intestacy rules, provided that they had been living together for a period of 2 years and were living as a married couple, or if they were being maintained, either wholly or partly, by the deceased immediately before their death.

It is unclear how this Act would apply in Hart’s situation given that Gambon already had a wife at the time of his death therefore Hart may have difficulties in establishing that she and Gambon also in fact lived “as if they were a married couple”.

Here at Samuel Phillips Law, when drafting your Will, if there is anyone who may potentially be able to make a claim against your estate, we would urge you to draft a statement alongside your Will to explain why little to no provision has been made for someone who could make a claim under this Act. This would not prevent that person from being able to make a claim but would explain your reasoning as to why to the Court and make a claim less likely to be successful than if no statement had been made at all.

If you would like to make your own Will or would like advice as to the potential implications of disposing of your estate in a certain way, you can call us on 0191 232 8451, email admin@samuelphillips.co.uk or via live chat on our website for an initial free consultation with someone from our specialist Wills, Probate and Trusts Department.

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