The Playboy estate: An inheritance solicitor speculates

Death of a Playboy: Inheritance Solicitor, Chris Green, speculates on the potential for Hugh Heffner's estate to become involved in an inheritance dispute

I woke up recently to news that the founder of the Playboy Magazine Empire, Hugh Heffner, had passed away. Whilst I appreciate that his Estate will be subject to US Law and though I have no doubt he would have had an army of lawyers advising him on such matters, it did lead me to wonder what a nightmare it could be if English law applied.

In our jurisdiction the main issue would arise under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. This piece of legislation allows certain categories of people to bring a Claim against an Estate if they either haven't been sufficiently provided for under the terms of a Will (or the Rules of Intestacy if the deceased person passes away without making a Will).

Those Inheritance Act categories include:

(i) the spouse or civil partner of the Deceased;

(ii) any former spouse or civil partner of the Deceased;

(iii) a child of the Deceased;

(iv) any person who immediately before the death of the Deceased, was being maintained either wholly or partly by the Deceased; and

(v) a person who, during the whole of the period of two years ending immediately before the date before the date of death, was living as if husband or wife or civil partner of the Deceased.

Given the hedonistic lifestyle that Hugh Hefner was reported to have enjoyed, including filling his Playboy Mansions with blonde playmates, and his numerous marriages, there would seemingly be a sizeable number of people who could potentially pursue a Claim against his estate.

No doubt details of his Will, assuming one was made, will filter out in due course and if any dispute does arise, then the value of the Estate is likley to mean it will be bitterly fought.

If you need any assistance with a dispute relating to a Deceased's Estate, particularly where there is a potential Claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, then please contact inheritance solicitor Chris Green on 0808 139 1598.

We handle a variety of disputes surrounding Estates, including bringing and defending validity challenges and are able to offer high quality, cost-effective legal advice on such matters.