Lynda Bellingham’s Sons Betrayed, as Feared
The late Lynda Bellingham’s lack of a proper estate plan risked leaving her sons with nothing – now her widower has done exactly what she least wanted him to do.
When Loose Women presenter Lynda Bellingham lost her battle with cancer in 2014, her blended family was plunged into turmoil. In a Traditional Will which she made in 2013 shortly after receiving her cancer diagnosis, she left her entire estate to her third husband, Michael Pattermore, expecting him to leave her share of their combined assets to her sons on his death.
At the same time, Pattermore made a Traditional Will mirroring hers. In his Will, he stipulated that the first £1million of his estate at his death – the amount the couple estimated Bellingham had brought into their 2008 marriage – would be left to her sons Robbie and Michael Peluso on his death, with any surplus being shared equally between the Peluso brothers and Pattermore’s own two children.
'We both wrote wills as a married couple and they mirrored each other in how we would leave our estate,' admits Pattermore.
Bellingham will undoubtedly have felt, at her death, that she could trust her husband to carry out her wishes and provide for her sons. But, with depressing inevitability, it turns out that her trust was misplaced.
A blended family at war.
War was declared between Bellingham’s sons and husband in April 2016, when, alarmed by their stepfather’s profligate spending on himself, and hurt by his decision to kick the younger of them out of the family home, the Peluso brothers launched a legal challenge seeking provision from her estate. Their fear that Pattermore’s absolute control over their late mother’s assets would leave them all but penniless, have proven to be well-founded.
After some legal wrangling - and much mud-slinging in the press on both sides – the legal proceedings were settled on terms that have not been fully disclosed. What is known is that the Pelusos are to receive one of Bellingham’s portfolio of properties. The property is estimated to be worth £700,000 to £800,000 and is let to tenants, but is by all accounts mortgaged to the hilt, leaving the boys with only a nominal amount of equity.
Predictably, Pattermore has now taken his revenge on the Pelusos for fighting back, by re-writing his own Will, disinheriting them altogether and leaving everything to his own son and daughter.
“I have re-written the will and they [the Pelusos] will get nothing from me.” Pattermore bragged to the Daily Mail
Can Pattermore do that?
In a word: yes. Having executed a Traditional Will in Pattermore’s favour, Bellingham passed all her assets into his absolute ownership when she died. His promise to look after her sons was never legally enforceable. Bellingham’s assets are now Pattermore’s to do with as he wishes, and to leave to whomever he chooses. There is nothing in law to prevent Pattermore going back on his promise and re-writing his earlier Will.
'Given the way property prices are in London, I estimate that Michael and Robbie have possibly said goodbye to close to £2million. They only have themselves to blame,' says Pattermore, 'My will has been changed completely and that is all down to their bitterness which is still going on.'
How could this have been prevented?
This cannot have been the outcome Lynda Bellingham was hoping for when she wrote her Will in 2013. Reeling from a cancer diagnosis, she would have been concerned to ensure, should the worst happen – which, sadly it did - that both her cherished husband and her beloved sons were equally well provided for.
She may, as many people with blended families do, have thought she faced a painful either-or dilemma: should she prioritise her husband’s security, leaving her sons to take their chances in the world? Or should she protect her children, potentially leaving her husband to do without?
But this is a toxic urban myth that blights so many blended families. It really doesn’t have to be this way. It genuinely is possible, in a blended family, to provide equitably both for the surviving spouse and for the children of the family.
Think about it properly, and early.
The first and most important advice for any blended family is to face this issue head-on as soon as possible, discuss it openly as a couple, or a family, and take well-considered, holistic legal advice. Bellingham and Pattermore left it until 2013 when Bellingham was highly vulnerable in the wake of her cancer diagnosis. It is incredibly difficult to make objective, informed decisions at such an emotionally fraught time.
Couples thinking about getting married for the second time, with kids from their previous relationships, need to regard their estate plan as an integral part of coming together as a blended family, just as important as planning the wedding and setting up home together.
It is also vitally important for a couple to do their research and arm themselves with as much information as possible, so that all suitable avenues can be explored and rational, knowledgeable decisions can be made. The guidance of an estate planner with a breadth of knowledge of all the relevant issues and available solutions will pay dividends in the long run.
What about property?
Life Interests and Rights of Occupation are two incredibly useful tools for passing the benefit of a property to both spouse and children in turn.
For example, you can leave your share of the family home to your own children, while giving your spouse a Right of Occupation for the rest of their life. This guarantees your children’s inheritance of what may be your main asset, whilst ensuring that your partner’s home for life is secured.
If your assets include buy to let property, you can leave a Life Interest to your spouse – ensuring they have the security of the rental income for the rest of their life – while passing ownership of the property to your children.
For co-owned properties, however, these measures only work if the co-ownership is a “tenancy in common” rather than a “life tenancy”. But you can easily convert a Joint Tenancy to a Tenancy in Common by making a Declaration of Severance and filing it at the Land Registry.
Consider a Family Trust Will.
If your assets are not all tied up in land – for example if a significant proportion of your assets are in shares and or investments – you can achieve a broader-spectrum solution by using a Family Trust Will, again to the advantage of both your spouse and your children. With a Family Trust Will, your assets – or an amount limited to £325,000 for tax purposes – go into a flexible trust on your death, usually managed to close family members. The rules of the trust are that the assets are to be used for your spouse’s comfort and welfare for the rest of their life, before ultimately passing to your respective children when both you and your spouse have passed away
Make the most of Life Insurance.
Another very effective way of ensuring that both spouse and children are well provided for is to take out ample life insurance and have it “written in trust” for the benefit of the chosen recipients.
For example, you could leave all your assets to your spouse in your Will, and take out a “whole of life” insurance policy written in trust in favour of your children, so that they receive a substantial cash endowment in the event of your death.
Many parents use this as a clever form of savings plan for the benefit of their children, because, unless you happen to live to the age of 110 or older, the policy proceeds are usually far greater than the sum of the monthly premiums paid.
Don't repeat Lynda Bellingham’s mistakes.
The Pelusos’ heart-rending warning to bended families everywhere still rings true:
‘Don’t make the mistake Mum made. She would be devastated if she knew what we’d been through since her death. Knowing how much she loved us, that’s the saddest thing of all.’
Making a start couldn’t be easier. Simply call us on 0151 601 5399 or complete the contact form below, and we’ll give you the tools you need, to identify and implement the measures that will ensure security and harmony in your family long after you’re gone.
Coronavirus - a message from the heart
The impact of the Coronavirus crisis is really beginning to bite. This is my pledge to help if you're worried and feel the need to quickly have your affairs in order.Read more...
Video Blog - How to Protect your House from Care Fees
This is the biggest issue for more mature parents whose kids have flown the nest - how can we save the kids' inheritance from being wiped out by care fees?Read more...
Video Blog: How to Pay for a Funeral Without Going Into Debt
It's a terrible time when you've just been bereaved, and the last thing you need is practical worries about paying for the funeral.Read more...
A Scary Story! Video Blog
My video explaining how a simple keystroke error almost cost someone their £100k+ inheritance … and what easy action you can take to safeguard yourself against such a thing happening to you.Read more...
Older Childless People “Dangerously Unsupported”
More than a million childless people aged 65 or above are living with dangerously inadequate levels of support, suffering isolation and lack of access to formal care - and that number is expected to double by 2030.Read more...
Taking the Long View
You need to make an estate plan to truly future-proof your family. Here's why, and how to go about it.Read more...
Brexit Turmoil Delivers Reprieve for Bereaved Families
At last, a tiny bright spot amongst the relentless Brexit related misery.Read more...
£110,000 for seven years of care
A court has awarded £110,000 to a granddaughter who provided devoted live-in care for her grandmother for seven years.Read more...
What to Do When a Loved One Passes Away
When you lose someone, the last thing you want is to think about the practicalities, but there are some essential steps you must take to safeguard the estate and ensure that it is passed down as smoothly as possible.Read more...
Estate Planning Essentials for Same-Sex Couples
How to avoid the four most common estate planning pitfalls that can affect same-sex couples.Read more...
D’Oh! Five Ways to Seriously Mess Up Your Estate Plan
If financial security and peace of mind for your nearest and dearest is your priority, it’s essential that you maintain a valid and up to date estate plan.Read more...
Talking About Estate Planning with your Parents
Have your Mum & Dad made their estate plan yet? Should you be concerned?Read more...
What About Your Digital legacy?
How to plan for what will happen to all your online accounts after you’ve gone.Read more...
Don’t let your business get clobbered!
It’s your responsibility to safeguard your business. Here’s how to do it in three easy steps.Read more...
Cost of Care Rises by 10% in Just One Year
The cost of a place in a care home is rising at its fastest rate ever, while pension incomes have little hope of keeping pace.Read more...
Hats off to the “Parentsioners”!
Look around, and you’ll notice you're surrounded by people who quietly go about their daily business of achieving seemingly impossible feats of hard work and organisation. You might be looking at just such a person in the mirror.Read more...
Contested Will Saga Ends in Prison Sentence
A retired window cleaner, who was left £280,000 in the will of a customer, was jailed for failing to hand back the money when ordered.Read more...
Will Inheritance Tax be Simplified?
The Office for Tax Simplification is reviewing the complex Inheritance Tax system. Does this mean there will there be less tax to pay?Read more...
Daughters try to block father’s marriage
Court of Protection forced to decide whether daughters can lawfully block their father’s marriage to his partner of 20 years.Read more...
Three Brothers in Court Battle Over their Mother’s Legacy
The three Heath brothers have already incurred £50,000 in court costs because they didn't have the awkward family conversation about inheritance.Read more...
We Need to Talk About Inheritance
With inherited wealth set to double in the next 20 years, it’s time to get over the awkwardness and have the conversation now.Read more...
Inheritance Tax Bonanza for HMRC
A 23% spike in Inheritance Tax receipts is being blamed on frozen allowances, rising house prices and more aggressive tax collection.Read more...
Dementia Tax – Some Good News?
Cautious optimism as Health Secretary vows to bring forward plans to make paying for care fairer.Read more...
The Tragic Case of “Mr Y”
52-year-old "Mr Y" is being kept alive in a coma while the Official Solicitor defends legal principles.Read more...
Can the Government be Trusted on the Dementia Tax?
Little has been said about the cost of care since the 2017 Dementia Tax controversy. But the few hints dropped by the government have both insulted and threatened parents of adult children.Read more...
Power of Attorney Refunds Available
If you paid £110 to register your Lasting Power of Attorney between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2017, you are entitled to a refund of up to £54.Read more...
Case Study: Jim and Jean’s Story
Jim and Jean have two grown-up children with complex disabilities. Here’s how their estate plan met their needs.Read more...
The £50million Final Salary Pension Transfer Boom
Here’s why so many savers are moving away from their final salary pension schemes? And why your pension capital should be a key consideration in your estate plan.Read more...
Just how risky are Lasting Powers of Attorney?
An invaluable tool? Or a passport to financial abuse?Read more...
Case Study: Guy and Steve Safeguard their BusinessRead more...
Sheila Kitzinger’s Good Death
Sheila Kitzinger, a passionate advocate for the rights of expectant mothers, pioneered the use of birth plans. And she brought the same control and empowerment to planning her own final days.Read more...
We’re Not Getting Any Older
Life expectancy at age 64 has all but ground to halt, due to the austerity years and a surge in dementia. What can you do for yourself while we wait for a cure?Read more...
Lynda Bellingham’s Sons Betrayed, as Feared
The late Lynda Bellingham’s lack of a proper estate plan risked leaving her sons with nothing – now her widower has done exactly what she least wanted him to do.Read more...
Probate: What’s it all about?
If you are dealing for the first time with the estate of someone who has died, you must quickly get to grips with some probably unfamiliar concepts. This is a short introduction to the issues you may have to deal with.Read more...
Redefining old age?
Seismic demographic changes mean we must re-think what it means to be “old”, says one of the UK’s leading social scientists.Read more...
Case Study: Ray & Joyce
How this retired couple made sure most of their main asset would be inherited by their children – and not the council.Read more...
Business Property Relief
If you are a business owner, it’s likely that your business is one of your main assets. You may want to pass your business to the next generation as a going concern, or you may want your dependants to benefit from the value of the business after you’ve gone.Read more...
Seven Inheritance Tax Tips for Buy to Let Investors
If you’ve invested in buy-to-let, you’ve probably done so with the intention of creating a steady income for yourself, together with capital to hand on to the next generation when you’re gone. But unfortunately, wealth tied up in residential lettings often comes with a significant Inheritance Tax burden.Read more...
The Residence Nil Rate Band
A guide to making the most of the new Inheritance Tax allowance.Read more...
Case Study: Tony and Diane’s Story
How Tony and Diane secured an Inheritance-Tax-free legacy for their daughter and planned a secure retirement for themselves.Read more...
What’s all this fuss about The Dementia Tax?
It’s odd that there has been so much vociferous debate about “the dementia tax”, as if this is an outrageous new concept proposed by a rapacious government. The truth is that people with dementia have been robbed of their legacy for decades to pay for their care.Read more...
Separating Elderly Couples in Care is Inhumane
It's scary that Social Care leaders actually had to be told at a recent conference that separating elderly couples in care is inhumane.Read more...
Inheritance Tax Planning with Enterprise Investment Schemes
Not keen on the government gate-crashing your funeral to demand yet more tax? An Enterprise Investment Scheme may be a useful addition to your estate planning toolkit.Read more...
Sons’ Inheritance Blown on Legal Fees
Two brothers have wasted their entire inheritance on a doomed court battle to contest their late father’s will.Read more...
Helping your Parents to Cope
The Guardian newspaper recently published a helpful group discussion, in which readers shared their own experiences of what has worked for them in offering a helping hand when a parent is finding it all too much.Read more...
The Supreme Court’s Decision in Heather Ilott’s case.
The 2015 Court of Appeal Decision in Heather Ilott’s case has been overturned. The Court of Appeal’s 2015 award of £163,000 has been reduced to £50,000.Read more...
Charitable Legacies - a Win-Win
Leaving a charitable legacy in your Will makes you feel good AND gets you an Inheritance Tax discount – what’s not to love?Read more...
Our friend died without saying she’d left us £110k
The rate at which estates go unclaimed has risen two and a half times in the last five years, according to government figures recently released.Read more...
Who gets the kids if something happens to us?
It’s a horrible thought, isn’t it? Nobody wants to imagine their beloved child being orphaned, but thinking about the unthinkable, and making proper plans, is a vital parental responsibility.Read more...
Is Your Child’s Inheritance Divorce-Proof?
Doreen Crowther may lose her house because her inheritance wasn't divorce-proofed.Read more...
Planning for the Cost of Care
Will poor health in later life put your home at risk?Read more...
Status Quo Rocker Rick Parfitt Disinherited his Wife
The late Status Quo star Rick Parfitt disinherited his wife in the final days before he died, it has emerged. But all is not as it seems.Read more...
My Health Scare - and why I’m so glad I made an Estate Plan
My New Year was overshadowed by a major health scare – but my estate plan assured me that, whatever might happen, my clients and loved ones are protectedRead more...
Your New Year’s Resolution?
If you haven't made your will yet, you risk leaving a mess behind for the people you love.Read more...
George Michael’s Estate Plan
Much missed pop legend provides for his sisters, god-children and favourite charities in his WillRead more...
Our 2017 Continuing Professional Development Programme
Our 2017 Estate Planning Training Programme for Accountants and Financial Services ProfessionalsRead more...
How a £2000 Inheritance Transformed 40,000 lives
Vashti Seth started a charity with a legacy from her dadRead more...
The £72million House Heist
Councils’ £72million raid on older people’s houses to pay for careRead more...
Royle Family’s Caroline Aherne Accidentally Left Her Mum with a £71,000 Inheritance Tax Bill
Inheritance Tax stress for Caroline Aherne's bereaved MumRead more...
“Get a Job!”: Disinherited Daughter’s Court Battle Ends in Humiliation
Danielle Ames loses her fight with her stepmother for a share in her late father’s fortuneRead more...
Danae Brook’s Story: A Blended Family Blighted by Intestacy
How Danae’s husband’s intestacy left this blended family in chaos.Read more...
The Truth about Deliberate Deprivation of Capital
Thinking about making a significant gift to your children? Worried that the council might snatch back the gift if you later go into a care home? Here’s what you need to know.Read more...
Disinherited Daughter v Stepmother
Disinherited Danielle Ames in Court Battle with her Stepmother over her "Idolised" Late Father's FortuneRead more...
Is the Traditional Marriage an Endangered Species?
In a major cultural shift, married couples are now in the minority as most couples choose to cohabit. Is this the beginning of the end for traditional marriage?Read more...
Video Blog - Inheritance Tax and You
Will my estate be affected by Inheritance Tax?Read more...
The Hurt and Rejection of Daisy Goodwin
It's every parent's responsibility to talk to their children about the legacy they might leaveRead more...
Trusts to Manage Inheritance Tax – One Rule for The Duke of Westminster and One for the Rest of Us?
The toxic urban myth that Inheritance Tax is for "the little people".Read more...
Toby Wales’s Story
The power of wills to transform lives for the better.Read more...
Heartache and Chaos from a Lost Will
Alison Shields tells of the distressing consequences of her father's lost will.Read more...
Father’s fear of making a will left his young daughter penniless
How Katy Young was accidentally disinherited by her father's fear of making a will.Read more...
Property tycoon sued beyond the grave.
Ex-civil partner of deceased millionairess in court bid for larger settlementRead more...
Stepfamilies & Blended Families Estate and Legacy Planning
A video guide for people who have stepfamilies or blended familiesRead more...
Frugal Bachelor Leaves Surprise Legacy of £1.5million to his Local Hospital
Heartwarming Generosity of Peter GibbonsRead more...
Case Study - How Dervla’s Inheritance Tax Planning Saved £120k
In today’s climate, “fail to plan” means “plan to pay lots of Inheritance Tax”Read more...
Video Blog - Estate Planning Tips for Business Owners
A Video Guide to Keeping your Business ResilientRead more...
Angela Rippon – a Happy Singleton Putting her Affairs in Order
In advance of the BBC documentary "The Truth About Dementia", Angela Rippon shares her concerns.Read more...
“Do Not Resuscitate” – Could this Happen to You Without your Consent?
The NHS knows that it's happening - and why it's happening - but won't be doing anything about it anytime soon. Here's how to protect yourself and your family.Read more...
The 8 Vital Questions You Should Answer Before You Make a Will or Estate Plan
How to choose an estate plan that's fit for purpose and within your budgetRead more...
Estate Planning Tips for Happy Singletons
This is an estate planning guide for single people - what you, as a happy singleton, can do to plan a secure future and a meaningful legacy.Read more...
Oxo Mum’s Family Torn Asunder by a Badly Made Will
How poor estate planning has left the late Loose Women star’s sons powerless – and possibly penniless.Read more...
Case Study - Bill and Anne, Buy to Let Investors
How we helped a couple ensure a secure future for theselves, their family and their buy to let portfolioRead more...
Estate Planning Considerations for Buy to Let Investors
This is the first in a two-part series that looks at the estate planning concerns of buy to let investors - and some of the many available solutions.Read more...
Come Live with Me and Be my Love ....
Five practical tips for living together securelyRead more...
Colin and Eleanor’s Story - Peace of Mind for Four Generations
This is the story of Colin and Eleanor, great-grandparents who wanted the peace of mind of knowing their assets were protected for the four generations of their family, and that their own personal wishes were respected no matter whatRead more...
Soaring Probate Fees - a Stealth Tax
The Ministry of Justice has announced a fee scale that increases the cost of probate by up to 130 times the present fee. Here are some ways of managing the cost of leaving a legacy for your family, so their inheritance is maximised.Read more...
Joy Williams’ Legal Battle - And Her Lessons for Couples Living Together
Joy Williams has won an exhausting, four-year court battle to save her home – but it could all have been avoidedRead more...
How a £90 Will Cost a Daughter Half a House
Ebenezer Aregbesola used a low-cost will-writing service to prepare his will - consequently a crucial loophole was missed, which robbed his daughter of her inheritance.Read more...
Making Your Child’s Inheritance Divorce-Proof
Marriage isn't always forever - is there a way to protect your child's inheritance from the consequences of a divorce?Read more...
How A Blunder Over Geography Led to a High Court Battle Over a Scientist’s Will.
A High Court battle between The Royal Society and an eminent scientist's family centred on the meaning of the phrase "United Kingdom".Read more...
Twice the Maternal love, but Twice the Inheritance Tax Burden
The Utley family have shared in the national press their heart-warming story of sisterly devotion, and their worries about the way a wholly unexpected turn of events has placed them in a dilemma they’re unsure how to solve. Here are some potential solutions.Read more...
Guest Blog - Building a Secure Future with ISA’s
This guest blog is brought to you by Neil Ridpath, an Independent Financial Advisor with Neil J Ridpath Wealth Management Limited. A fundamental part of planning for yours and your family’s financial security is making the most of your assets. Here, Neil tells us about Individual Savings Accounts, and why they are such a useful tool for getting the best return form your hard-earned savings.Read more...
Standing Up for the “Mustn’t Grumble” Generation.
Recent reports suggest that older people are getting a raw deal in many aspects of life, because they generally don't like to complain. How can we make sure older people receive the great service they deserve?Read more...
Seize the Day! Overcoming Procrastination about Protecting your Legacy
How to overcome the impulse to put off important decision, like protecting your legacy.Read more...
Self employed? Here’s how to safeguard your business and your family
If you're self-employed, your business can be your greatest asset and your greatest responsibility - here's how to keep it safe. come what mayRead more...
“Inheritance Tax is too toxic to save”, says The Fabian Society
The Nation is almost unanimously opposed to Inheritance Tax - but abolition is unlikely so we must fight back in other ways.Read more...
Advance Care Planning - Staring Into the Abyss or Taking Back Control?
Considering an Advance Directive takes some courage - but brings peace of mind for you and your family.Read more...
Don’t Mind the Council Inheriting your House? Then Go Ahead and Make Basic Mirror Wills
The potential price of making simple mirror wills.Read more...
Why leaving your estate to your other half can be a terrible mistake
The risks in making straightforward Mirror Wills.Read more...
Subscribe for Updates & Information
"You are so efficient, which is really impressive - thanks, Gina."
Neil Ridpath, Financial Advisor