By Laura Walkley
When comedian Bob Mortimer went to the doctor with a suspected chest infection, he didn’t expect to be on the operating table five days later undergoing a triple heart bypass.
As well as coming to terms with what must have been crushing news, there were pressing practicalities he needed to address: Mortimer didn’t have a Will. Had he not sought medical advice and the worst had befallen him, he would have died “intestate”. Dying intestate means that a “one size fits all” procedure is applied to the estate to determine who receives what. The resolution of this can be a drawn-out affair which will very commonly distribute the assets of the estate in a way that person who has died would not have wanted or approved of, had they considered the situation in their lifetime.
The other issue relevant to Mortimer’s case is that he was not married. If you are unmarried and not in a civil partnership, your partner will probably not automatically inherit anything on your death: there is no such thing as “common law” marital rights. A bereaved partner may therefore need to go to Court to claim against the estate – it’s hard to think of anything more uncomfortable. And so Bob Mortimer and his partner Lisa were married at 9:30am on Monday morning, and he went to hospital half an hour later for the operation. Had they not done this, it is likely that she would have had no right to any of his assets on his death.
Thankfully Bob came through the operation successfully and has been given the green light to continue his life and comedy performing as before. But the story does highlight in extreme terms why a basic instrument of family protection, namely a Will, (which can be made with minimal fuss and a sensible cost) might just be the most sensible thing you can do this year.
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