Personal Law

With the final stage of the Tour de France fast approaching you may be nervously anticipating who is going to take the yellow jersey! However, still fresh in many cycling enthusiasts’ minds is the tragic passing of Andy Rihs, owner of the BMC cycling team who died on Wednesday 18 April 2018.

Rihs was a passionate cyclist, whose commitment to BMC helped them develop in both a sporting and economic sense. Rihs was also the chief benefactor of the team and his funding has reportedly been critical to the team. His subsequent death has left BCM co-owner, Jim Ochowicz, searching for sponsorship to keep the team afloat. The current sponsorship deal with the Rhis family runs until 2018.

Creating a legacy that lives on: protecting your passion after death

This set of tragic circumstances has reminded us about the importance of putting in place a will which allows, if that is wish, for the continuation of your passion, whether that be in the arts, sport or a charitable endeavour.

In doing so, key aspects to consider are:-

  • using the “right” structure of will to allow your executors to carry forward your legacy or vision
  • appropriate executor and trustee appointments
  • using a letter of wishes to explain how you would envisage your ‘legacy’ (in both the financial and wider senses) to be protected, maintained and developed over time

Appointing executors and trustees who understand your vision and objectives is key. Of course, in many cases that vision will be protecting family members, loved ones, businesses and family wealth. In others it might be that plus a wider vision. In some cases a lifelong passion that has been cultivated and you wish to ensure it continues after death is the focus. This might be to create and support charity, protect a building (for use for particular purposes) or even to help continue to fund a sports team. In doing this the right of structure of will also needs to take account of the tax position of the estate and the future activity.

The use of a letter of wishes is an important one in situations where individuals would like leave a lasting legacy. A letter of wishes is a non-binding document that sits alongside your will, acting as a guide to your trustees as to how assets should be invested and used. This includes who or what should be benefit and in what way. The right structure of will coupled to a letter of wishes also creates flexibility to carry out your wishes taking into account family circumstances and the tax regime at the time of death. It also neat that a letter of wishes is in ‘plain English’ and it can include personal comments which indicate the reasoning or thoughts behind a particular wish.

Taking the time now to consider putting in place a well planned and thought out will gives you the control to ensure your wishes will be adhered to following your death – making sure your loved ones are provided for and taking into account your own specific passions and preferences.

This blog was written by Helen Kidd, Alan Eccles and Kirstie Webb.

Helen Kidd

Associate at Brodies LLP
Helen is a Associate in our Personal & Family team. She specialises in charity law matters, providing governance and legal advice to charities and other third sector organisations, individuals and companies, such as family foundations, housing associations, community groups, social care providers, museums and culture bodies and sports organisations.In addition to, and often alongside, charities and philanthropic work, Helen also has wide experience in dealing with family and related business succession planning, trust law advice, preparation of Wills and Powers of Attorney and executry (probate) administration.
Helen Kidd