The much-loved TV veteran, Sir Bruce Forsyth, left his entire fortune to his third wife Wilnelia in order to avoid inheritance tax (IHT) which he described to Radio Times in 2015 as ‘a bit over the top’. It is possible to leave everything to your spouse or civil partner free of IHT due to what is known as the ‘spousal exemption’. This is provided for under S.18 of the Inheritance Act 1984. There are lots of reasons someone would leave everything to their spouse but a notable benefit of this is that the spouse on her death would have the benefit of her own nil rate band as well as the transferable nil rate band from the deceased (in this case – Sir Bruce).
Forsyth’s fortune, which is estimated to be worth £17million, passes to his spouse and she is then able to pass on £650,000 free of IHT on her death. This can also be increased by the residence nil rate band, available where an interest in a property is left to direct descendants such as children or grandchildren. This additional exemption currently sits at £125,000 per person.
The direction in Brucie’s Will would have left everything to the former Miss World and it is likely that he will have trusted her to pass on £650,000 to each of his 6 children although she may not be obligated to do so. If she decided not to share the money and died without a Will then the estate would pass to their only child together (JJ) and Bruce’s 5 other children together would be disinherited.
There have been stories whereby entire families have been disinherited because after someone has remarried and new Wills have been written, then the children from former marriages have been deliberately excluded.
The famous TV presenter had a career spanning 75 years and was known most recently as a presenter on Strictly Come Dancing. Sir Bruce amassed a huge fortune including a £4million pound house in Surrey, a company worth in the region of £6m, and other properties and assets worth £6million.
Bruce died last year following a period of ill health at the age of 89.
If you have any questions in relation to estate planning or if you need support or assistance, speak to our team. The Society of Will Writers have been regulating its members for over 24 years and we estimate that our members write in excess of a quarter of a million Wills per year. Visit www.willwriters.com for more info or call 01522 68 78 88.