The “Fifth Beatle” reveals important estate planning lessons

Published 08 Nov 2016

For some people, it’s not clear what relationship they had with a deceased family member until it’s too late. Often, long-running family feuds boil over and continue after one party passes away. A recent case involving Beatles producer George Martin, often referred to as the fifth member of the group, has brought a timely public reminder to this issue.

One of Martin’s children is unhappy with her provision from his state. Martin passed away earlier this year, leaving what some family members believe is not representative of his full fortune. As such, it’s likely to result in ongoing will disputes until a resolution is reached.

Why are Martin’s beneficiaries contesting his will?

Despite not being an actual performing member of The Beatles, Martin had significant involvement in some of the group’s crowning achievements. According to an article from The Telegraph, 30 of the songs he produced for The Beatles went to number one on charts in the UK. A further 23 reached the same position.

It’s this legacy that’s leading one of Martin’s daughters from his first marriage to believe that her awarded sum of £68,000 isn’t truly representative of what his estate was worth. In total, Martin left just £325,000 to a number of important people in his life, including his children, grandchildren and former chauffeur.

The amount was low as to avoid being affected by UK inheritance tax. However, it also meant that his eldest son was written out of the will entirely. Subsequent investigations will look into the family’s relationships to determine if Martin’s decisions were justified.

What does mean for contesting wills in NSW?

While it’s an ongoing case in the UK, Martin’s decision to leave people out of his will does raise awareness for similar contesting will cases on this side of the world as well. In NSW, family provision claims exist to ensure people receive fair compensation when a member of their family passes away.

There are a few conditions to these cases, such as having to file these claims within 12 months after the family member’s date of death. Importantly, however, you don’t have to obtain grant of probate before making one of these applications.

To find out more about these claims and whether you have a case or not, get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf and Partners.

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