Legally Speaking

ZOOMING IN ON ALL MATTERS SUCCESSION

Covid Forces Millennials to Face their Mortality

Covid Forces Millennials to Face Their Mortality

Young people don’t often think about dying. Traditionally, mortality is something people face later in life. Most people begin estate planning after accumulating considerable assets and a family. However, the Covid pandemic has seen a marked shift in the demographic of people drafting up wills. In 2022, it’s the young who are contemplating what will happen when they die.

Writing your will is essential if you are to make clear your wishes after death. With a will, you can choose who receives your assets and what they receive. But for millennials, who range from twenty-five to forty, contemplating end of life decisions hasn’t seemed relevant. That is, until now.  

Millennial Myths

Born between 1981 to 1996, millennials have long been saddled with negative stereotypes. Labelled entitled and overly-sensitive, they’ve had to contend with unfair assumptions that they continue to defy.

Since 2000, their namesake year and the year the dot-com bubble burst, millennials have suffered financial insecurity. Ten years later, American millennials witnessed the Great Recession and its aftermath. Since then, they had to earn more to receive less. They may not have faced a plague before, but they’ve certainly experienced economic blight.

Millennials are the largest generation of Americans today. With huge student debt and increased cost of living, they’ve typically put off having children and getting married. Hence, they’ve also put off estate planning.

Michaela Vincze, a public health expert from nonprofit Transamerica Institute, tells the host of Clearpath, Al Waller, ‘Part of the reason for doing things later in life might be the economic downturns… Another factor is the student debt that we carry and how much that eats into our budgets.’

Burdened with the mistakes of their parents, millennials have put off planning for the future. 

The Impact of the Pandemic on Millennials  

In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Catherin Collinson, who leads the nonprofit Transamerica Institute, released a report about its impact on millennials. She told the host of Clearpath, Al Waller, ‘Almost 6 in 10 Millennials (58 per cent) said their finances were negatively impacted during the pandemic at that time. And seven in 10 had made one or more adjustments to their financial situation, such as reducing everyday expenses, dipping into savings, accumulating credit card debt, and some even moved back in with family or friends to help save money.’

Covid forced millennials to examine their own finances and those of their vulnerable parents. Many, worried that their parents may succumb to the virus, encouraged them to get their affairs in order. Naturally, this prompted them to follow suit.

According to Caring.com, eighteen to 34-year-olds were the age group most motivated by the pandemic to draft a will. Twenty-seven per cent of adults in that age range now have wills compared to 18 per cent in 2019. That’s a ten per cent uptake since Covid hit.

Millennials are also saving more. After witnessing so much financial upheaval, they are even more likely than baby boomers, the generation nearing retirement, to plan for their futures.

Collinson says that her research showed a definite trend toward millennial financial planning. ‘Millennials are a truly remarkable generation… with the immediacy of everything they’re going through, it is astonishing that so many Millennials are continuing to focus on the future. More than eight in ten (82 percent) say they are currently saving for retirement, which is just extraordinary… the Millennial generation, I’ve come to think of as the retirement generation.’


The Great Pandemic Pivot

More than any other time in recent history, people have been forced to ask, what will happen if I die? It seems millennials have answered this question with clarity and decisiveness.

With the worst of the pandemic over, many are reckoning with what remains. Millennials have taken the opportunity to plan their finances, their estates and their future. Perhaps it’s time we dropped the stereotypes and took our cues from the generation leading the way.



Do you stand to inherit from a Dutch estate? Allow us to assist you. Dutch Probate provides a legal trinity of expertise, representation and fieldwork to assist emigrants and expats of Dutch descent. To find out more, please visit our website. Alternatively, you can email info@dutchprobate.com or telephone +31(0)85-0604243 (select 0).

Dutch Golden Age Painting Found in Australian Storeroom

Dutch Golden Age Painting Found in Australian Storeroom


Many of us fantasise about uncovering an item of unimaginable value in our attic. Perhaps this old doll is worth something? Maybe this book could sell for a good figure? Does this painting have a famous signature? A great find could help with the bills or even pay off the mortgage. But what if your spring-clean uncovered a Dutch Master? In Australia this month, one lucky person did just that.

The painting, ‘Still Life’, currently attributed to Gerrit Willemsz, was recently stumbled upon during a restoration project on a property in New South Wales. The Woodford Academy, managed by the National Trust of Australia, is one of the oldest colonial buildings in the Blue Mountains. It’s just the kind of place one imagines holding a secret like this.

That’s not to say the finding was expected. Estimated to be worth millions, ‘Still Life’ depicts a hedonistic table setting typically associated with the Dutch Golden Age. One that National Trust collections manager Rebecca Pinchin heralds as ‘one in a million’.


How Did a Dutch Master End up in an Australian Storeroom?


Thought to have been purchased for $30 AU dollars by Alfred Fairfax in the late eighteenth century, ‘Still Life’ was possibly acquired as part of the fashionable (and retrospectively inspired) trend of buying up Dutch Masters. Alfred, the nephew of James Fairfax, founder of The Sydney Morning Herald, is thought to have brought the painting to Woodford, where it sat undiscovered for the next century or so.

Eightieth Anniversary of Bilateral Ties 


Coincidentally, the find came one week after The Netherlands and Australia celebrated the 80th anniversary of bilateral agreements between the two countries. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison penned a statement to mark the occasion. ‘From the Duyfken’s exploration of Australia in 1606 to the contribution made by generations of the thousands of men and women of Dutch heritage to this country, Australia and the Netherlands share enduring bonds of friendship and family.’

Eight decades of agreements are significant, but Morrison touched on the actual length of the relationship when he mentioned the Duyfken. Chartered by Willem Janszoon, The Duyfken left The Netherlands in 1603. As part of a fleet of twelve ships commandeered by Steven van der Hagen, it was headed for the East Indies.

When the fleet departed Java, Janszoon split off to head south, searching for more trading partners. Although believing what he saw to be the southerly most part of New Guinea, when he sighted land, it was, in fact, Australia. Indeed, The first European to touch foot on Australian soil was not English but Dutch.

Landing at the place in Queensland now known as Weipa, Janszoon found the surrounds muddy and the people (understandably) inhospitable. He decided to high-tail it out of there, unknowingly changing the course of history.

Janszoon may have failed to establish the trade relationship he sought out, but since then, things have changed. ‘The strong trade relationship between The Netherlands and Australia is the foundation for our collaboration in other areas, such as the green economy and cybersecurity. Through our growing engagement with multilateral fora, we will work together to advance our mutual economic prosperity and stability,’ said Morrison.

The Dutch Diaspora


While relations between the two countries have always remained positive, the most significant period was during and immediately after the Second World War. Not only were Australia and The Netherlands allies, but post-war, Dutch people migrated to the Land Down Under in their droves.

The evidence of cultural exchange is seen in immigration patterns and the hallmark of Dutch culture – art. Dutch Masters turn up in Australian storerooms, and Australian masterpieces are found in Dutch galleries, too.

It’s a little known fact that the only museum in Europe dedicated to contemporary Aboriginal art from Australia can be found in Utrecht. The AAMU Museum of contemporary Aboriginal art is recognised by the government of Australia as an essential platform for Australian cultural heritage in Europe.

Today, 240,000 Australian residents claim Dutch ancestry. That’s a lot of bitterballen at the barbeque. Forming one of the largest groups of the Dutch diaspora outside of Europe, a few of those residents undoubtedly spent the last fortnight searching for a Golden Age painting in the attic.

# Note: Featured is the painting ‘Still Life’. Credit: National Trust of Australia


Do you stand to inherit from a Dutch estate? Allow us to assist you. Dutch Probate provides a legal trinity of expertise, representation and fieldwork to assist emigrants and expats of Dutch descent. To find out more, please visit our website. Alternatively, you can email info@dutchprobate.com or telephone +31(0)85-0604243 (select 0).

Will Britain Change its Succession Laws?

Will Britain Change its Succession Laws?

You may think society has progressed in the last thousand years, but if Britain’s succession laws are anything to go by, not much has changed. Indeed it’s 2022, yet the inheritance of aristocratic titles and estates still excludes daughters. Jane Austen, never short on witty social commentary, famously wrote, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’ Pride and Prejudice, written in the late seventeen hundreds was a deep dive into the archaic laws that governed the British aristocracy, and yet to date, the same rules remain.


The Downtown Abbey Law 

Known colloquially as ‘The Downtown Abbey Law’, for the television program’s storyline of three sisters passed over in the line of succession, Primogeniture is still in place. Introduced by the Normans in 1066, the law decreed land pass to the eldest son. Who would believe, however, that a bid to cement the power of Norman Barons over one thousand years ago would still hold today?

Call For Change

Although Primogeniture laws only affect a niche and privileged section of British society, they symbolise an archaic set of values. How much longer can we accept laws that discriminate based on gender, you may ask? Recently, aristocrats have been breaking rank.

Speaking with The Evening Standard, Lord Monson suggested the laws were cruel. After losing his only son in tragic circumstances and with a sole daughter remaining, almost 600 years of succession will end when he and his brother die. He is one of the many voices speaking out against the discriminatory law. When asked why other aristocrats disagreed, ‘It’s not easy. However, to make omelettes you have to break eggs,’ he said.

Lady Kitty Spencer, Earl Spencer’s eldest child and not entitled to her father’s estate, has also spoken out. ‘Primogeniture can be a tricky topic because as times are changing, attitudes are as well,’ she told Town and Country Magazine.

 

Who Gets the Crown?

The hallmark of British aristocracy may be tradition, but even traditions change. Recently, Queen Elizabeth made a change that many didn’t see coming. The Succession to the Crown Act, passed in 2013, abolishes the law that decrees a male inherits the throne. Indeed, if the Queen makes an exception for her own family, women of the British aristocracy should be allowed the same.

The hallmark of British aristocracy may be tradition, but even traditions change.


Progress in Parliament 

In 2019, change seemed imminent. Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, introduced the Hereditary Titles (Female Succession) Bill to Parliament. However, at the last moment, it failed to pass.

Still, a vocal minority continues to voice their dissent. In March, 2020, The Earl of Shrewsbury spoke out. ‘Maybe the Government, with their appetite for diversity and equality, should take the lead and support a private member’s bill. Indeed, should the minister indicate her support for this initiative, I will move the matter forward to try to secure a question for short debate in order to gauge the opinion of the House before moving forward,’ he said.

 

What Would Jane Do?

Jane Austen – long-held as English literature’s first feminist, saw male inheritance as an old fashioned concept. What if someone told her that almost 250 years later, the same laws would still be in place? If this line from Pride and Prejudice is anything to go by, I have a feeling she would have encouraged us to press on. ‘There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.’

Surely, following The Succession to the Crown Act, the Queen invites the aristocracy to follow suit. After one thousand years, perhaps it’s finally time for a change. 




Do you stand to inherit from a Dutch estate? Allow us to assist you. Dutch Probate provides a legal trinity of expertise, representation and fieldwork to assist emigrants and expats of Dutch descent. To find out more, please visit our website. Alternatively, you can email info@dutchprobate.com or telephone +31(0)85-0604243 (select 0).

When Celebrities Die Without a Will

When Celebrities Die Without a Will

Wondering who inherits the vast estates of the rich and famous when they die without a will?


In the U.S., individuals who die without a will lose control over their assets by default. It’s a lost opportunity to assign appropriate beneficiaries and minimise the burden of inheritance tax. Often this results in disputes between those left behind. But how much more complicated does the battle for inheritance become if the individual was famous?

When most people die without a will, inheritance is of interest to a small group. But when celebrities die without a will, the public interest can attract attention far and wide.

You may have heard of the squabble over Tupac’s estate; a 40 million dollar dispute fought between family members after his untimely and unforeseeable murder at twenty-five. Fame certainly contributed to his wealth, but it also led to a money grab after his death.


Similarly, Prince, one of the most recognisable musicians of the modern era, died of an accidental drug overdose at 57 without a will. It took six years and considerable legal wrangling, all played out in the public arena, to sort out his 156 million dollar estate.

Law gravel and bag of money


Complicated Estates

The rich and famous often have complicated estates. They may range from tangible assets (think private jets and pet monkeys) to considerably more abstract wealth such as intellectual property (think royalties and song rights): the more complex the estate, the more expensive the process to determine its value. Often, considerable money is lost in the wash.


Dying without a will nullifies your opportunity to appoint an executor who assesses and values your estate before distributing it. As Prince passed up his right to choose, an executor was agreed upon by a majority of the potential beneficiaries, not an ideal scenario and one that attracted the scrutiny of the IRS, who claimed Prince’s estate was worth considerably more than previously disclosed.


Dying Without a Will

What happens to a wealthy person’s money when they die has been the fodder of gossip columns long before the prevalence of celebrity culture and the twenty-four-hour news cycle that feeds it.


Perhaps the most famous lawyer in the republic’s history, Abraham Lincoln, surprisingly died without a will. Luckily his estate was executed by a close family friend who just happened to be the U.S. Supreme Court Justice, David Davis. Still, we will never know if Lincoln intended his estate to go to his wife or split between her and his children.


Without a will when he died in 1973, Pablo Picasso left behind one wife, one ex-wife, a slew of mistresses and four children from three different women – another example of a public figure who could have benefited from getting his affairs in order. Leaving an estate many consider priceless, his heirs engaged in a lengthy court battle to state their claim. Now the riches have been carved up; they’ve progressed to arguing over the use of their father’s name, a commodity Picasso’s son, Claude, has recently seen fit to sell to Citroën.


Understanding Intestacy Laws

In the U.S., Intestacy Law, also known as Law of Descent and Distribution, determines the relevant beneficiaries of those estates without a formal declaration. Or, to put it simply – who gets what if the paperwork is missing. It’s fair to say that most of us wouldn’t want our beneficiaries determined by the state, but the system is in place to deal with the vacuum created when someone fails to declare their wishes. You may assume that the estate would go to a surviving partner or children, but this isn’t necessarily the case.


For all its spectacle, when a celebrity dies without a will, it can bring much-needed attention to the importance of estate planning. You may not be as legendary as Tupac, wealthier than Prince or more universally recognised than Abraham Lincoln, but you can certainly be more prepared.



Do you stand to inherit from a Dutch estate? Allow us to assist you. Dutch Probate provides a legal trinity of expertise, representation and fieldwork to assist emigrants and expats of Dutch descent. To find out more, please visit our website. Alternatively, you can email info@dutchprobate.com or telephone +31(0)85-0604243 (select 0).