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How to avoid a partial intestacy: lessons from Big Brother

This case highlights the importance of planning for future generations and the possibility of changing circumstances

The press has reported that Big Brother reality star Nikki Grahame left a will leaving her estate to any surviving children. However, Nikki had no children so the substitute provisions of her will govern what happens to her estate instead.  

Nikki rose to fame in 2006 after appearing in the seventh series of television’s Big Brother. She sadly passed away earlier this year aged 38 and reportedly left an estate worth over £300,000. Nikki’s will made provision for her estate to pass to her children, but at the time of her death she did not have any. The will stated what should happen in those circumstances by including a ‘gift over’ provision that if she died without any children, her estate would pass to her mother and nephew. The will also included a cash legacy to a friend. By including these additional provisions in her will, Nikki future-proofed her planning and retained control over how her estate is ultimately divided.

This case highlights the importance of planning for future generations and the possibility of changing circumstances. This is why our clients are well-advised to always include a chain of beneficiaries within their wills to avoid a ‘partial intestacy’.

What is a ‘partial intestacy’?

A ‘partial intestacy’ occurs when a will has been made but it does not fully deal with the whole of the estate.

For example, in this case if Nikki had not made the substitute provision for her mum and nephew within her will, her estate would have fallen into a ‘partial intestacy’ because the gift to surviving children failed (as she did not have any).  

A partial intestacy does not invalidate a will but, if enough provision is not made, there is the risk under the intestacy rules that the estate may pass to people who the deceased would ordinarily not wish to benefit, including distant family members the deceased may have never met. This could lead to additional unnecessary distress and upset during what is already a difficult time. 

Planning for the unknown

Seeking professional advice and having a valid will which plans for future generations and potential ‘family disaster’ scenarios can provide peace of mind that your estate will pass in accordance with your wishes, whatever the future circumstances may be.

We recommend clients keep their wills up to date and we suggest they regularly review their planning; at least every three years and whenever there is a change in family or financial circumstances. For example, the death of a beneficiary or changes in family dynamics (such as marriage, divorce, having children or grandchildren) are always a good time to review.

To discuss in more detail, please contact a member of our wills trust & estates team.

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