Influential women and their estates after death.

Diana, Princess of Wales, 1961–97

Diana made her will in 1993 but amended it in 1996 and changed a trustee to include her sister. Diana’s mother was also a trustee. The estate was worth £21 million- after taxes this was reduced to £17 million.

The Will gave instructions for the majority of the estate to be distributed between her two sons; with instructions they were to receive their inheritance on turning 25 years of age. Diana’s brother was given the responsibility to look after Diana’s possessions until William and Harry became of age to inherit them.

Diana had written a letter of wishes as well and asked that a percentage of her personal property be given to her 17 Godchildren. Diana’s Trustees petitioned the probate court for a “variance” of the Will and the letter of wishes was discounted. The letter of wishes being discounted because it did not contain “certain language required by British law”. 

The variance also prevented the estate from being distributed between her sons at the age of 25 but postponed it until they were 30. Diana’s butler was also left around £50,000 in cash.

This matter highlights the need to have a Will and letter of wishes professionally constructed rather than relying on High Street packs or writing your own.

The matter also considers the use of letters of wishes, which, whilst being instructions to the Trustees; are not legally binding.

Letters of wishes, however, can be used to great effect in detailing funeral requirements and as simple supplemental instructions to a personal possessions clause in the Will.

For further information contact at Avalon Legal:


© Karen Wells – May 2020

Vanity Fair

Hands up if you have read Vanity Fair. I must admit I have read this – and watched the series – and loved it!

This classic novel, by English writer William Thackeray, was first published in the magazine Punch in 1847; not as a book but serialised in a magazine. This is set around the times of the Napoleonic wars and charts the life and loves of two friends. 


For those of you not familiar with the story I shall give you a synopsis. There is a young orphan girl Becky Sharpe and she is destitute, with nowhere to go. A strong-willed and determined girl she aims to make her fortune on the back of others. 


Becky Sharpe befriends a lovely, well-refined girl called Amelia; Amelia has considerable wealth but is gullible and not worldly-wise. Becky is manipulative and conniving and aims to use her rich heiress friend to her own advantage. 

Becky Sharpe is forced to become a governess and marries into wealth, while Amelia marries a man disinherited by his father. 

Lets now look at the legalities in more depth..
Closer analysis of this story and the law around inheritance and succession offers good discussion points. 

The right to gift your property, chattels, real estate etc. to whom you wish is specific to English and Welsh Law and differs from the rules of many civil law jurisdictions. 

Matilda Crawley knows that her family want to inherit her enormous wealth but she has the upper hand and keeps them all guessing as to who will inherit her fortune. If Captain Rawdon is not left anything, he has no claim. However, if this had happened after 1975 then, possibly, he would have been able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. 

Captain Rawdon relied on the charity of his aunt to maintain his lifestyle so may qualify as a ‘person being maintained’. Historically though he had no rights. 

In 1814 the primary piece of legislation governing Will writing (The Wills Act 1837) hadn’t yet come into force. In 1796 there was an introduction of taxing estates and this was to help against Napoleon.

Disinheriting a relative was also prevalent in the Osbourne’s story line. George disobeyed his Father’s request to go to war and the request to marry Amelia. George was at risk of disinheriting himself.

In the early 1800s, Inheritance law was different from when Vanity Fair was set and in 1894 a new inheritance tax legislation was introduced to help the government pay off a £4m deficit. 

Death tax (as it became known), in some form, has been in place since 1694 and many tax avoidance schemes have been used by people, like Mr Osbourne, who will gift or give away assets over a lifetime to avoid any charges. 

We do not advocate tax avoidance but with proper estate planning you can minimise any potential inheritance tax due.

Karen Wells,
Avalon Legal

For further information contact

Avalon Legal on

07506 583669

Inheritance for women through the 1800’s – 1926

How would you like to give all that you earn and any inheritance to your husband? It seems alien to us today that this could have been the case. In the 1800’s up until 1869 if a married woman earned a wage or inherited money, it became the property of her husband. This was the case from the early thirteenth century until 1870. English Common Law set out that most of the property of the wife, owned as a feme sole, became the husbands, upon marriage.

Did you know that if a woman was to marry the dowry from the bride’s father was to be used for his daughter’s financial support throughout her married life. In the event of her husband dying before her, the wife lost her identity and became legally absorbed into that of her husband. The wife had no legal claim to her property or money and the law saw husband and wife as one person: with the husband having full control. This left the wife at her husband’s mercy and he could do whatever he wanted with any and all of her property. 

An influential women’s rights activist in the 1850’s was Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827-1891). Barbara along with other women’s rights activists fought tirelessly to reform the law around women owning property. Eventually the Married Women’s Property Act 1870 gave married women protection of the property that was earned or inherited, with some restrictions regarding the time of acquiring the property. This was then superseded by the Married Women’s Property Act 1882 which gave women further protection and stopped the husband or his employees having any claim on her property. These Acts empowered women and enabled them to live with their children, away from their husbands; and earn money to support themselves and their family.

The Law of Property Act (1922) was a reform one step further and allowed a husband and wife to inherit each other’s property. This Act also gave them equal rights to inherit the property of intestate children. In 1926 there was further legislation passed allowing women to “hold and dispose of property” in the same way men were allowed. 

There have been considerable changes to the law throughout history and how women fought to change the law to make it equal and fair on inheriting and keeping their property and/or earnings. Considering these reforms and changes how can you now protect what you have earned and worked for? You can protect what you have earned and worked for by writing a Will.

In 1837 the Wills Act came into effect which set out the formalities for a valid Will. Prior to the Act Wills did not have any regular form or structure. Things have moved on and a properly executed Will is a document used to give what you own to who you want, otherwise the law of intestacy takes over, which we shall cover in a future blog.

Have you made your Will or have you reviewed if it is more than five years old? Circumstances change and it’s important to revise your Will to keep it up to date with current legislation and estate planning.

Contact us at Avalon Legal to discuss making your Will. It’s such an important document and one that secures the future of those you choose to inherit from you. 

Our contact details are

Avalon Legal

07506 583669

© Karen Wells – May 2020

February 2020

🍁The month of February, although notably short in duration, has seen some dreadful weather and the areas affected by flooding and high winds must feel like the month was never ending. We were very fortunate to have only lost 4 fence panels as others had it so much worse. It’s times like these, in adversity, we think about the importance of family and friends.

The tree that came down in Cheam Park has now been made safe; following our request to the council to turn it into a climbing area for the children. We love Cheam Park and this is so important for the history of the park too. The link takes you to the Sutton Guardian and their coverage of our plight. 🍁

The news has also been alarming with the reporting of a possible pandemic of Coronavirus and the people and countries this has affected so far.

However spring is around the corner and with this season comes lighter mornings and evenings, new growth on the plants and trees. I especially love the blossom at this time of year although it does cause me to have hay fever. 🌸

The Avalon Legal team have been busy over the last month. Grace has had lots of exciting opportunities and her next one is Aladdin where she is playing Omar. Grace is excited and has been rehearsing but she really isn’t loving the idea of being dressed as a boy. Grace has also been chosen to sing at Epsom Playhouse with her School, so that will be a lovely event too. 🎬

Colin has been busy during the month with Avalon Legal work and we appreciate all the recommendations and reviews. The Local Mums on line recommendation and review was lovely. 👍😊

Being self employed has many advantages and fits in with family life. The way we work enables our clients to have appointments when it is convenient to them.

I am on my second year of the business degree and enjoying it. It gives greater insight and understanding of how businesses work; and creates opportunity for personal growth and development.

The Avalon Legal team are supporters and champions of other small businesses; we always take the opportunity to try services and feedback to our business groups.

Avalon Legal will be sponsoring a local club this year and more details will follow soon. 

This our link to our website:

We hope you have a fantastic March and that spring brings better weather. 🌺

Team Avalon Legal

Karen, Colin and Grace 👨‍👩‍👧


January has been a very busy month for us. We had a lot of fun celebrating Grace’s Birthday.

We always use local businesses, where possible and we had such fantastic services.

PandiBakes organised a cupcake and craft party for Grace. The children loved it and repeatedly said it was the “best party ever”. Amy even organised impromptu dancing at the end.

Grace’s Birthday cake was just beautiful and made by Tams Cakes and Cookies. It was stunning and tasted delicious.

The balloons, we ordered as usual, from BBL Design Florists in Ewell. I got the job of carrying them down the high street to Glyn Hall. I did feel like Mary Poppins and about to take off in the wind.

The sandwiches were ordered from All Things Nice in Ewell and the children loved them.

Nic Chappell took the photos for us to capture the special moments that would have been missed otherwise. The photos are lovely.

We have been busy with our business too and really enjoy being able to help people. Our focus this month has been on Lasting Powers of Attorney and have created informative posts, to help with understanding the need for these important documents. If you would like more information or an appointment to discuss this, please email us at

We are pleased to advise that our registered office address has moved from Leatherhead to Epsom.

We continue to offer evening and weekend appointments as well as day time appointments. We come to you at a time that suits you.

Case Study- We thought it would be helpful to give a case study. Names and circumstances have been changed for confidentiality.

This case study relates to a man called Eric who had been married to his wife Anne, for over 50 years. They were both retired and in their mid-70’s. They had two adult children and two grandchildren and had great grandchildren on the way.

Sadly, Anne died several years ago and Eric, naturally was now on his own for the first time in over 50 years, was starting to struggle to look after himself and was becoming more reliant on the children to help with various things.

It was at this point the children contacted us expressing concerns about Eric’s situation and asking if we could help. We contacted Eric directly and with his consent, we arranged to meet at his home for a free no obligation chat.

Eric explained to us that he was not as mobile as he once was and did not get out to the shops and the bank much, becoming more and more reliant on help and support from the two children. However he knew that the children were finding it difficult to sort some things out and wanted to make it as easy and convenient as possible for his two children to help him.

After discussing matters with us fully, Eric decided it would be in his best interest to make Lasting Powers of Attorney appointing the two children to be his attorneys enabling the children to make any important decisions on his behalf. Eric wanted to make a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Affairs to enable the children to deal with finances and also a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare to enable the children to make decisions about his health and welfare if he was ever unable to make those decisions himself.

We explained to Eric the total costs for us making both types of Lasting power of Attorney and sorting everything out.

We then drafted all the necessary paperwork and called to see Eric at his home again to go through it all and get it all signed off. We also agreed to be Eric’s “Certificate Provider” at no extra cost. After the children had also signed the documentation, we then arranged to register both the Lasting Powers of Attorney at the Office for the Public Guardian and then sent the registered Lasting Powers of Attorney back to Eric, in preparation for the children to act on his behalf.

Overall it took about three months from beginning to end to sort out. Eric and the children now have fully legal Lasting powers of Attorney for Property and Affairs and Health and Welfare in place to enable his children to fully support and help look after Eric for the rest of his life.

If you or a loved one feel you might benefit from making a Lasting Power of Attorney please visit our website at or call us for a free no obligation chat on 02086444441 or 07506583669.


One of our favourite parks

How are you all? I can’t believe it is November, this year has gone so quickly.

One of the highlights of the year was being interviewed by the Crohn’s and Colitis organisation. A very positive and powerful interview about the impact of Crohn’s on everyday life and the amazing journey this last year has taken us on.

Today I am focusing on explaining about why a valid Will is so important.

Unfortunately we get to hear of the circumstances when a person dies without a Will.

When a person dies without a Will the estate is distributed following certain rules.

Under these rules of intestacy only those that are married, civil partners and other close relations can inherit.

Sometimes people decide to write their own Will. If it is not written correctly and not legally valid, the rules of intestacy will decide on the estate distribution. Nobody wants this outcome.

Avalon Legal offer a bespoke service, with over 19 years in the profession. We are experienced and professional.

Avalon Legal offer home visits as standard, many people would rather have an appointment in the comfort of their own home.

Give us a call to arrange an appointment.

We look forward to being able to help you.

Enjoy the rest of November.

All the best



October the 17th already! Where has this month gone?

I wanted to highlight the importance of Powers of Attorney and why you might need one.

Let’s face it none of us want to think about needing help with our finances or health but there comes a time when we need it. If you have planned well and have a Power of Attorney in place and registered, it will be so much easier for you and those around who care for you.

Just think about this scenario. If you are hospitalised and can’t access your pension, or your bank account and your bills need paying. What are you going to do? Who will ensure your gas and electricity don’t get cut off. It’s so easy to bury our heads and not think about the “what ifs”.

The trouble is, I see the situations that arise when people haven’t planned and not only can it be costly but also it can be very damaging to family dynamics.

The Lasting Power of Attorney eases the pressure as the donor (person to who the Power of Attorney refers) can stipulate who the attorneys will be and what they are to do on behalf of the donor for both financial matters and health matters.

Make an appointment with us to discuss your requirements.

Working hand in hand with our clients.

Probate Fees Scrapped…

After much debate and previously being put on hold during the last election, the proposed increase in fees being paid to the Probate Registry have been scrapped.

The article featured in the Daily Mail (link below) and I’m sure there will be an announcement from HM Court and Tribunal Services to follow.

For further information contact us by email or by telephone on 07506583669 or 02086444441

Every picture tells a story

Woken up last night with the rabbit thumping, went to see if she was ok and Mr fox was there. Great start to the day. That 2am wake up call left me awake and thinking. 🤔

How do you support the local community? It’s so important to everyone to support locally. Over many years businesses have grown, the development of the supermarket and department stores led to the demise of local areas. Money goes to fund these new shopping developments and local retailers and businesses can’t compete. They are left to either ‘adapt or die’.

But recently there has been a change in culture. Large stores and shopping developments are struggling and closing after many years in business. What’s changed?

Well the way we shop and buy things has evolved and the online presence is ever growing. However people are also looking to small businesses to purchase items and use local services. Small businesses appear to have adapted faster with their online presence than the larger corporate businesses. This has been to their advantage.

Small businesses not only offer a personal service but are more adaptable and flexible to their customers needs. Social media is a great way to grow your business and get known locally.

Did you know we have two business groups? You can share your businesses on them and network. The more interactive you are, the more you will get from it.

Avalon Legal offer you a bespoke service. We offer what others don’t and that is flexibility. We come to you at a time that suits you, after work, in your lunch break, whenever is convenient to you. A professional service, that’s affordable and tailored to your needs.

We also support our local community and network with local businesses.

How do you support your local community and local businesses?

We hope you have a great weekend.

Fabulous Friday

I don’t know about you but I’m pleased it’s Friday. Although we see clients at weekends upon request; the weekend signifies no School (but homework) and this weekend will be spent designing and making a gingerbread house for a School project.

We are still busy but it’s in a relaxed way. Tomorrow is strictly, which our daughter loves. She spends most of the time dancing along with the strictly stars on TV.

The weekend also brings more Blaze classes and Exercise as I find exercise a really powerful way to de stress and feel energised.

Grace has also got to learn new songs from Aladdin, as she will be performing in that production next year. I keep being asked what role I would choose in Aladdin! I thought long and hard about this and Karen would play the Genie. Those of you that know Karen would agree with this I’m sure. Not sure who I would play though 🤔

Well I hope you have a good weekend and you get to spend some quality time with those you love.