People can get written out of wills for all sorts of reasons. This post will look at some of the better and worse ways of doing it – using the example of the Game of Thrones Tarly family. With a spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the later series’ of GoT!
The bombastic warlord Lord Randyll Tarly made no secret of his disappointment with his son and stated on multiple occasions that he wanted no part of his estate to go to the bookish Samwell. His preferences were made clear when he said he wanted his other son Dickon to be his heir.
So: what might have happened when both Randyll and Dickon met a toasty end ahead of their time?
If Randyll didn’t make a will then his estate would be split in accordance with the rules of intestacy. This means that Randyll’s widow Melissa would inherit the first £250,000 and the remainder of the estate would be split between all of the living children. That would be Samwell and Talla. This could lead Samwell with a considerable amount of the late Lord Tarly’s wealth and his title. Definitely not what Randyll would have wanted.
Credit: ertacaltinoz on deviantart
To make matters worse (or better, depending on your perspective) Melissa would then have the right to make her will and choose where she would want her wealth to go when she died. She would (hopefully) be more even handed and Samwell could stand to inherit further. Fair, but it would leave Randyll spinning in his grave (if there was enough of him left to bury)!
Will with a gift of everything to Dickon
Bearing in mind Randyll’s age and high-risk pastimes (slaying/ hunting/ warmongering) it’s likely that he would have made a will. On the assumption that as well as disliking bookish children he’s also a bit of a chauvinist we’re going to assume that he may have made a will leaving everything to Dickon his favoured son and excluding his wife and daughter.
The problem for Randyll with this is that Dickon took the same toasting as him and died at the same time or momentarily before. So – with no Randyll and no Dickon, this leaves us in the same situation as above. The end result being that Samwell, Melissa and Talla inherit. Again: NOT what Randyll would have wanted.
Will with a mention (1%) to Samwell
So: on the basis that not mentioning Samwell at all could lead to Samwell inheriting, and not making a will could also lead to Samwell inheriting Lord Tarly may have made a point by leaving Dickon 99% of the estate and Samwell 1%. Sorted? Right?
Actually: no. As Dickon died before/ at the same time as the late Lord Randyll and Dickon has no children, then his share of any bequest from Randyll to Dickon would go to the other named beneficiaries under the will. In this case, Samwell. Samwell’s 1% would effectively increase his share to 100%. Worse still than above two options.
Gift of last resort
Randyll is running out of options here: each of: (a) no will, (b) 100% gift to Dickon, and (c) a small gift to Samwell would lead to Samwell inheriting. One way of stopping your estate from going somewhere you don’t intend is to provide a “gift of last resort”. If the people mentioned in your will die before you and you don’t update your will you can be left in a situation where either (a) the rules of intestacy are followed or (b) your estate goes to the Crown (i.e. the government).
If you don’t want this to happen you can make gift that sweeps up anything that is left. Gifts of this kind are often to charity and makeawillonline.co.uk actually provides a prompt to do this. A gift to a charity is effective because most larger charities have been around for a long time and will continue to exist for a long time following the demise of the will writer.
If Lord Tarly had provided for a gift of last resort to the a charity, for example: the Widows and Orphans of the Battle of Blackwater Foundation or the Church of the Mother’s Dawnish Outreach Trust, then when he and Dickon died, the remainder of his estate would have passed directly to the charity. This would have left Melissa and Talla very much in the lurch and requiring a claim under the Care for Dependents Act (the subject for another blog).
On the basis that Samwell and Gilly seem to be on their way down south back to the family ranch at Horn Hill with Samwell appearing every bit the Lord: we can guess that despite his fame and fortune: Lord Tarly didn’t set his affairs in order. Much to his chagrin (and our delight) Samwell seems to be on his way to a “happily ever after” situation back at the family seat with Gilly. Although: this is Game of Thrones and (at the time of writing) we are only half way through the last season…