What was in Princess Diana’s Will?
- Wills, Trusts & Probate
- 16th Jun 2021
Princess Diana died on 31st August 1997 in a tragic car accident in Paris, however, there are thousands of conspiracy theories that dispute this and argue it wasn’t an accident. We will resist the urge to delve into some of those conspiracy theories, and instead take a look at Princess Diana’s Will. Diana’s estate was […]
By aleksMLP Law
Princess Diana died on 31st August 1997 in a tragic car accident in Paris, however, there are thousands of conspiracy theories that dispute this and argue it wasn’t an accident. We will resist the urge to delve into some of those conspiracy theories, and instead take a look at Princess Diana’s Will.
Diana’s estate was valued by The High Court of Justice at £21,711,485.00, however, Diana’s estate was liable for Inheritance Tax and the ultimate value of the estate once Inheritance Tax was paid was around £12-13 million.
In a Will you appoint people you trust, usually up to 4 people, to act as your executors and administer your estate upon your death. The executors will apply for a Grant of Probate (if necessary), collect in the estate assets, pay any debts and then distribute the estate to the beneficiaries.
In Diana’s Will, she appointed her mother, The Honourable Frances Ruth Shand Kydd and her sister The Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia McCorquodale to act as her executors.
Diana made various gifts of money and personal items in her Will:
- The sum of £50,000.00 was left to Paul Burrell, Diana’s butler from 1987;
- The sum of £100,000.00 and Diana’s clothes (including her wedding dress) were to be held in a discretionary trust for the benefit of Prince William and Prince Harry, their future family members and special charities. Royalties from authorised use of intellectual property (items containing Diana’s photo, name, etc.) and the accumulated interest of these assets was also to benefit the discretionary trust; and
- Personal effects (including photos, paintings and china) were to be left to her 17 godchildren.
The remainder of Diana’s estate, once all debts had been paid (including the hefty Inheritance Tax bill) and gifts had been settled, was to be divided equally between Prince William and Prince Harry.
Letter of Wishes
Diana wrote a Letter of Wishes, which is not legally binding, to accompany her Will and requested that 75% of her personal belongings be inherited by Prince William and Prince Harry and the remaining 25% was to be distributed between her 17 godchildren.
Variation of the Will
In December 1997, shortly after Diana passed away, the executors obtained a “variation order” to vary the distribution of Diana’s Will.
Prince William and Prince Harry were to receive their share of the residuary estate upon reaching 30 years old, however, they could receive income from the estate at 25.
Rather than 25% of Diana’s personal belongings being distributed between her godchildren, the godchildren were instead allowed to pick one item chosen by the executors upon Prince Harry turning 30 in 2014.
The reasons for the executors wanting to vary Diana’s estate are unknown.
If you would like advice on Inheritance Tax planning, preparing your Will or administering an estate, please get in touch by email to WTP@mlplaw.co.uk or phone 0161 926 9969 and we can help.
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About the expert
Stephen is the Owner of MLP Law and leads our Commercial, IP and Dispute Resolution teams which provide advice on all aspects of the law relating to mergers, acquisitions, financing, re-structuring, complex commercial contracts, standard trading terms, share options, shareholder and partnership agreements, commercial dispute resolution, joint venture and partnering arrangements, IT and Technology law, Intellectual Property, EU and competition law, Brexit and GDPR.
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