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Peter Sellers’ probate – a lesson to be proactive with your Will

Peter Sellers passed away just over 30 years ago in July 1980, a famous comedy actor loved by many.  Sadly, he fell foul of poor Estate planning, and it has recently come to light that his last wishes were actually not known about at the time of his death and therefore not followed.

Peter had in fact, decided to have a Will prepared, leaving the majority of his estate primarily to his wife Lynne Frederick.  However, in the years leading up to his death, the couple had separated and were not on good terms.  By this stage, Peter did not want her to benefit, but failed to make the changes to his Will quickly enough.  Presumably, he assumed his demise was far enough away that he had time, so it was in July 1980 that he began the process of making the specific changes, which were meant to replace Lynne as the beneficiary, with his daughter Victoria, as the main heir.

Sadly, Sellers collapsed and died the same day that he signed the letter making the changes – a letter which was never returned to his probate specialist, and was therefore not known about.  His estranged wife was left the Estate, with the letter not surfacing until earlier this year.

This high profile case is a solemn reminder to keep your Will up to date, otherwise those you do love and cherish at the time could find themselves left without anything, or facing legal battles as they challenge to actually receive what you intended to leave them.  Meanwhile, quite what will happen in the Sellers case is as yet unknown – a tragic ending for such a wonderful actor.

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