Audrey Hepburn memorabilia wrangle highlights importance of making concise Will


21st July 2017

Failing to draft a clear and concise Will can tear families apart and spark years of expensive legal wrangling, warns private client expert Caroline Fraser.

Ms Fraser, a partner at Tayside legal firm Miller Hendry, was reacting to the news that the long-running feud between Audrey Hepburn's two sons appears to be at an end.

The Breakfast At Tiffany's star left a £77 million fortune and a treasure trove of memorabilia which included items such as photos, iconic outfits, her personal wardrobe, classic posters, famous scripts, and awards. Although the collection was to be split 50/50 between Sean Ferrer and his half-brother Luca Dotta, her handwritten Will did not stipulate who should receive which items.

Her sons were unable to agree on how to divide and sell the legacy, which resulted in Ferrer suing his half-brother, Dotti. After a two-year legal battle, an agreement has finally been reached between the feuding siblings to sell the items at auction and split the proceeds.

A live and online auction - featuring Miss Hepburn's Burberry trench coat and her annotated Breakfast At Tiffany's script - will take place at Christie's in London in September 2017. It is expected to generate a great deal of interest, especially after the Hollywood legend's little black dress worn in the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany's which was estimated to sell for between £50,000-£70,000 actually sold for £476,000 in 2006.

Caroline Fraser commented: "It has been agreed by Ferrer and Dotti that any items which go unsold will be divided equally between them. However, bearing in mind the recent court case on this very matter and the fact that other issues regarding the estate remain in dispute between the brothers, unsold items could easily reignite the feud.

"Although many parents when making a Will trust their children to exercise common sense, it is not unusual for disputes to arise when gifts are made that are uncertain, open to interpretation or require agreement to be reached.

"As seen in this case, Wills lacking clarity can throw up an array of issues for the deceased's family. This can be stressful and expensive to resolve, not to mention very time consuming. To avoid the pitfalls of unclear Wills, always consult a solicitor when putting your Will in place. For further advice contact a member of Miller Hendry's Private Client team."

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Miller Hendry

Miller Hendry is one of the longest established and largest legal firms in Tayside. With 16 partners and 150 staff, through our offices in Dundee, Perth, Crieff, Comrie and Auchterarder we provide a wide range of legal expertise to our clients. As well as a sizeable Estate Agency and Property Services business we have specialists in Court, Private Client, Asset Management and Commercial work.

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