Following Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld's death in February 2019, it was widely rumoured that his beloved cat Choupette was to inherit his estimated £178,463,375 fortune.
Over a year later, his Will (filed in Monaco) has been located and seven beneficiaries have been reported. These reported beneficiaries consist of numerous male models and Langerfeld's housekeeper, who is said to be inheriting for the upkeep of his cat. It seems, however, that the division of his assets is not going to be straightforward.
It is important to note that whilst in other countries Langerfeld's cat could have been set to inherit the majority of his fortune, in UK law, pets are considered property and as such a cash gift left directly to a pet will fail. Alternatively, you are able to leave a cash gift to a friend for the maintenance and care of your pet.
Disputes have allegedly arisen amongst the beneficiaries regarding who will receive the largest share of Langerfeld's estate. Currently an inventory of Langerfeld's assets is being drawn up, however, this has been complicated by the fact that Langerfeld's accountant Frylender has vanished and is refusing to take anyone's calls. Frylender's wife has defended her husband stating that he is simply too sick to help with the late designer's Will.
It is believed that Frylender is the only person who has knowledge of the true extent of Langerfeld's assets and how they are to be fairly distributed. His absence is likely to result in prolonged legal and financial chaos regarding distribution.
In circumstances where there are no obvious beneficiaries such as children or family members, disputes often arise.
Furthermore, where an individual has a complex estate consisting of foreign assets and tax issues, it is vital that they have a Will which clearly identifies their assets and lays out exactly which beneficiaries are to obtain each asset. For our clients with complex estates we advise that they regularly provide us with updated asset logs which we securely store alongside their Wills. As a result, upon death all assets are accounted for making distribution simpler for the executors.
If you would like to make a Will or have any concerns about your current Will and would like to make a new one or discuss your options, please contact our Private Client department on 01245 228125 or email PrivateClientEnq@gepp.co.uk and one of the team will be able to assist you.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.