MW’s Head of Estate and Trust Disputes Team, Hayley Bundey, discusses the Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson being another example of a star dying without a Will and the distressing implications this can have for their loved ones left behind.

On the 21st April 2016 the world was shocked to learn of the death of the pop star, musician and icon to a generation, Prince.  It has subsequently been confirmed that he died without a Will (intestate) and as such his fortune of some $300 million (not to mention future earnings from royalties) is reported to be passing to his siblings, full sister Tyka Nelson and five half-siblings (as he died without a spouse, children or surviving parents). At the time of writing, a possible seventh beneficiary has recently been found – the granddaughter of one of Prince’s pre-deceased half-brothers who would inherit her grandfather’s share if her relationship to the star can be proven.

It is understood that Prince had one other half-sibling who pre-deceased him and who didn’t have any descendants so they won’t therefore inherit and neither will his two ex-wives benefit from his Estate.

As a devout Jehovah’s Witness, you have to wonder whether this would have been what Prince would have wanted and if he would have instead wanted to benefit the Jehovah’s Witness church in some way if he had executed a Will.

We will of course never know now.

The Difference between Minnesota Law and English Law

Interestingly Minnesota Law apparently makes no distinction between Prince’s full sister, Tyka, and his half-siblings whereas if English law applied to his intestate Estate the situation would be very different. Under the Intestacy Rules in England & Wales Tyka would be entitled to be the sole beneficiary of Prince’s Estate to the exclusion of his half-siblings.

It is clear that unwanted outcomes can arise when people take the risk of not executing a Will but despite numerous examples of high profile celebrities having done so in the past, resulting in often bitter inheritance disputes following their death, some stars don’t seem to learn.

Other Intestate Celebrities

Prince joins a long list of examples of Celebrities who failed to execute a Will before their death, such as:

  • Amy Winehouse – who died in 2011 at the age of 27 – her £3 million Estate went to her parents with none passing to her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil.

  • Barry White – who died in 2003 at the age of 58 – he left years of post-death battles behind him between his children, wives and girlfriends.

  • Bob Marley – who died in 1981 at the age of 36 – he left a wife with three children fighting with three additional mothers of six further children to fight it out over his Estate.

Heath Ledger and an Outdated Will

Heath Ledger is another example of the pitfalls which can befall those who have executed a Will but have failed to update them.  Upon his death in 2008 at the age of 28, it was discovered that the entirety of his Australian assets were to pass to his parents and siblings rather than his 2 year old daughter Matilda as he failed to update his Will following Matilda’s birth.

Thankfully the family agreed to do the right thing in this scenario and gift the entirety of the Estate to Matilda in trust without her mother, Michelle Williams, having to make a formal claim against the Estate.

Intestacy is Far Too Common

Unfortunately, these examples are far too common and will rarely result in the amicable resolution which Matilda Ledger experienced. Long running legal disputes between various family members will often follow an intestate death and these can be not only expensive but extremely distressing for those who simply wish to grieve for their loved one.

Don’t let this be you or if it is seek specialist advice to resolve the situation as quickly and painlessly as possible.

We Can Help

At McMillan Williams, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone".   Our Specialist Private Client Team can make or update your Will for you to ensure the dreaded unknown of the Intestacy Rules doesn’t apply to you.

If, however, you find yourself in a situation where a loved one has died intestate and you don’t know if you would have a claim against their Estate then our Specialist Estate & Trust Dispute Team can guide you through the process of making a claim against the Estate as quickly and painlessly as possible.

If you would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at

McMillan Williams are pleased to announce the following promotions with effect from 1st May 2016:      


Anton Osborne
Anton Osborne

Deputy Head of Legal Services

Anton has been promoted from Divisional Partner to Deputy Head of Legal Services joining David Hall in supporting Neil Perot with the running of the legal professional services arm of MWSL.

All 3 of the team have been at MW for many years, however Anton is the second Senior Member of the business (along with the CEO) to have trained at the firm.

We are immensely proud that Anton has achieved the promotion to this level in a record breaking short time.

Anton is responsible for all property related areas in the business in addition to assisting the CEO's Department containing the Legal Services Management Team.


Mark Stubberfield
Mark Stubberfield

Regional Partner for the Kent Region, Private Client, Sevenoaks


Neil Hayes
Neil Hayes

Property, Brighton

Nadine Shouler
Nadine Shouler

Property, Reigate

Vanessa Wake
Vanessa Wake

Property, Hove

Julia Stygal
Julia Stygal

Property, Wallington

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John-Paul MacNamara

Crime, New Addington

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Hayley Bundey

Contested Probate, Devon

Sharon Leanne Bell
Sharon Leanne Bell

Contested Probate, Sevenoaks

Justina Molloy
Justina Molloy

Personal Injury, London Bridge

Shimmee Wong
Shimmee Wong

Property, Guildford


Special Mention

A special mention to Neil Hayes who becomes the first person in MW history to be appointed to partner status having obtained his subject matter expertise purely from experience as opposed to having followed a more traditional academic pathway.  We are especially proud of the fact that our ABS status opens up opportunities such as these, which enable us to reward hard work, commitment, skill and expertise that is not necessarily founded on a formal legal training/qualification.

Partners at MW Solicitors

We use the word "Partner" to refer to the most senior individuals of McMillan Williams Solicitors Limited and its use in connection with the business of McMillan Williams Solicitors Limited should not be construed as an indication that any individual carries on business in Partnership with any other individual within the meaning of the Partnership Act 1890 or is personally liable to you or any other party for any acts or omissions.

Individuals named as Partners owe no personal obligations to you in either contract or tort.

McMillan Williams are proud to support the work of Families Against Corporate Killers and the Hazards Campaign on International Workers' Memorial Day. 

Helen Clifford
Helen Clifford
Partner & Head of Personal Injury

Our Head of Personal Injury Helen Clifford is a specialist Catastrophic Injury Solicitor and a tireless campaigner for better health and safety in the workplace.

Helen is acting on behalf of the family of Marian Nemit and will be attending the memorial at the Bakers Arms, Leyton.  Marian tragically died aged just 21, from injuries he received whilst working on a shop re-fit in Leyton in April 2015. 

UPDATE - A Photo Gallery from the above events is now available.

Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK)

FACK is a non-profit organisation based in the UK which campaigns on behalf of families bereaved by workplace deaths. It was founded in July 2006 by members of the Bereaved by Work North West support group and the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre.  The organisation campaigns for increased funding for the enforcement of health and safety law and changes to the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 to make directors criminally responsible for health and safety offences with the possibility of imprisonment.

FACK also provide guidance for bereaved families to obtain legal help and emotional support.

Hazards Campaign

The Hazards Campaign (Website) is a UK national network established in 1988 to campaign for improved workplace health, safety and welfare, and a reduction in the incidence of work-related injury, ill-health and death. It brings together Hazards Centres, Occupational Health Projects, trade unions, health and safety groups, specific campaigns and individual health and safety activists. Specific campaign groups include the Construction Safety Campaign, the Centre for Corporate Accountability (CCA), the UK WorkStress Network, Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK), asbestos victims' support groups, and RSI Action.

The campaign works by; sharing information and skills; campaigning on specific issues; acting as a national voice; issuing press releases; holding conferences; establishing national initiatives, including Workers Memorial Day; lobbying MPs, MEPs and statutory bodies like the Health & Safety Commission and the Health & Safety Executive, and organising demonstrations and protests.

International Workers' Memorial Day

28th April is the internationally recognised day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.  It is recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

This year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day theme centres on “strong laws, strong enforcement and strong unions”. 

In support of that theme, we ask that you acknowledge the mums, dads, wives, partners, siblings, sons and daughters, whose strength is displayed in so many ways because their loved ones left for work one day, never to return.

You can find out more about International Workers' Memorial Day events taking place around the world via the website  



tug of war

MW’s Head of Estate and Trust Disputes Team, Hayley Bundey, discusses the sad state of affairs which Lynda Bellingham’s sons have been left in following her death and their exclusion from her Will.

As most people are aware, Lynda died from cancer in 2014 and shortly before her death she executed a Will providing for her entire estate to be left to her husband Michael Pattemore.  Her children from an earlier marriage, Robert and Michael Peluso, are now bringing a claim against Lynda’s Estate in an attempt to restore their mother’s Estate to its rightful heirs.

The Claim

Her sons claim the sole reason for Lynda leaving her Estate to her husband of some 6 years was for inheritance tax saving and she trusted him to provide for her children once she was gone.  Unfortunately, as is often the case in step-families, this did not transpire after Lynda’s death and instead Mr Pattemore is alleged to have spent thousands of pounds on several lavish holidays as well as several hundreds of thousands on a mansion.  At the same time he is stated to have provided little provision for Robert and Michael (some £750) and instead is seeking to evict them from their home.

Robert and Michael are now understood to be bringing a claim against Lynda’s Estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”).  They are eligible to bring such a claim under section 1(1)(c) of the 1975 Act as children of the deceased.  If successful, the Court could redistribute Lynda’s Estate according to what it considers is reasonable financial provision for Robert and Michael according to the maintenance standard (which doesn’t place them on the breadline but tries to provide them with what they may reasonably need now and in the future from the Estate).

Robert and Michael have openly said that they have invited Mr Pattemore to resolve the claim amicably through mediation but so far he is reported to have refused their invitations.  This is an unfortunate position for Mr Pattemore to adopt given how keen the Courts are now for parties to attempt Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR – including mediation) of such claims and it is likely that if he continues to adopt this position he will be penalised on costs at a final trial if and when Robert and Michael succeed on their claim.

The whole situation is a stark reminder for parents, particularly parents in second and subsequent marriages, to ensure that their Wills reflect their true wishes without relying on their spouses to “do the right thing” by their children.  Inevitably such trust is often misplaced and parents will therefore leave their children with the very daunting and distressing task of facing legal proceedings against their step-parent at the very time when they should be grieving their parent’s loss.

Thankfully, the 1975 Act is there to protect such children in the event that things don’t go as planned.  

We Can Help

At McMillan Williams, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including step families who feel they may have been wrongly excluded from their parent's Will.  Our Specialist Inheritance Disputes Team are here to help  and can provide information about any type of inheritance dispute or claim.

If you are feel you are affected by anything in this article or would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at

Our team from MW Sevenoaks will be in attendance at the 2016 Sevenoaks Business Show at the STAG Theatre today from 10:00am till 2:00pm.

Our expert Solicitors are on hand to answer any of your legal questions such as Residential and Commercial property transactions, Commercial Dispute Resolution, Professional Negligence, Insolvency and debt collection, Challenging a Will or estate planning advice and Notary work.  We will also be showcasing our work as specialist Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Solicitor.

You can meet two of our Solicitors, Peter Williams and Mark Stubberfield who have recently been shortlisted for the Kent Law Society Awards 2016 in the respective categories of "Young Lawyer of The Year" and "Outstanding Achievement"

Don't be shy stop by Stand No. 6 and say hello.

MW Solicitors Stand at Sevenoaks Business Show

MW Solicitors Stand #9 at Sevenoaks Business Show

The Sevenoaks Business Show

The Sevenoaks Business Show is an annual event with fantastic talks and opportunities for business to business networking.  This year's event will be opened by The Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP and there will be three free talks at the House in the Basement Youth Café from 10:30am -12:30pm.

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