The suicide of Coronation Street’s Hayley Cropper has prompted a call from legal experts, urging people to make a will.
In the ITV soap, Hayley took her own life after a long battle with cancer, leaving assets including savings and a share in “Roy’s Rolls Café” and the flat above.
The Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, said that if Hayley had died without making a will, her husband Roy would automatically inherit assets of £250,000 and all Hayley’s personal possessions.
If the value of her estate exceeded £250,000, the laws of intestacy would mean that Roy would also be entitled to a life interest – the income – in half the remaining estate.
The other half would pass automatically to her (until recently) estranged son Alan, as would the capital in the first half on Roy’s later death: and Hayley may not have wanted this to happen.
Law Society president Nicholas Fluck said on 20 January: “In Hayley’s case, she organised her own palliative care, her death and her funeral – even down to what her husband Roy should wear. Hopefully, she also ensured her wishes after death were respected by making a will.
“Thousands of people die every year without making a will or without a properly drafted will. The consequences of this can be tragic. A grieving family dealing with a complicated estate or a contested inheritance is a situation no one wants to find themselves in.
“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.”
Many people who make their own wills, and sometimes those who are advised by unqualified will writers, make wills that do not maximise tax saving or planning in their estates, which requires specialist knowledge.