Gerry Rafferty, an old Will “Forget about everything”

Gerry Rafferty was born in Paisley in 1947. He had an unhappy childhood but his talent for music lead to him teaming with future comedian Billy Connolly, in a folk band called the ­Humblebums.  ­Connolly would announce. ‘I’m Billy Connolly and I’m Humble.’ then he introduced Gerry.  He married his wife in 1970 and had a daughter.

Gerry formed the pop-rock act Stealers Wheel who had a huge hit with “Stuck in the Middle With You”. The band broke up in 1975. In 1978 the album City to City, spawned his hit “Baker Street.

Baker Street provided Gerry with an income of £80,000 a year. Its lyrics – which dwelt on alcohol and unhappiness – proved to be worryingly autobiographical. In October 2010 the song had been played over 5 million times worldwide. “Stuck in the Middle With You” 4 million times worldwide, and “Right Down The Line”  over 3 million times.

Unfortunately Gerry was uncomfortable with fame and he became a reclusive alcoholic and his marriage ended in 1990.

Gerry Rafferty died aged 63, his girlfriend of two years,  Enzina Fuschini, decided to keep items she said Gerry had given her, except none of this had been in writing, and she wasn’t mentioned in Gerry’s will.

Gerry made a will, shortly before he met Enzina. His estate was valued at more than £1 million, mainly based on record royalties such as the rock classic ‘Baker Street’ that reportedly makes $80,000 per year in royalties. He left his home in California and all its land and contents to his daughter, Martha the rest of his estate including the rights to all future royalties from his songs, were left in trust for his granddaughter, Celia.

Enzina challenged the will in the High Court under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, which enables claims for ‘reasonable financial provision’ from people who were financially supported by the deceased and also others who were ‘connected’ to them.

A spouse or civil partner who claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is entitled to such financial provision as is reasonable in all the circumstances whether or not that provision is necessary for their maintenance.

In many ways this is similar to family provision legislation as it imposes a legal obligation on the Will maker to make proper provision for the support and maintenance of certain defined dependents.

Legislation provides that the task of the court is to determine the extent of the provision made for the maintenance, education and advancement in life of the dependent if the Court believes it is inadequate, evaluate what provision, if any, would be adequate.

However the purpose of Family provision Acts is not to provide for an equal share of an estate to an aggrieved party it is limited to the provision of adequate maintenance and support out of the deceased’s estate.

Enzina said that Gerry had given her three guitars, 13 Matisse lithographs and 22 Russian icons, and they had shared a Steinway piano, electric keyboard, antique furniture and a Mercedes that had been kept at their rented home. Gerry’s executors took Enzina to court seeking their return.

The Executor’s gave evidence that Gerry had been very clear that he had made no gifts. The Court agreed that

(1) there was no contemporaneous evidence of the alleged gifts, whether written or verbal and

(2) Enzina had not mentioned the alleged gifts until after Mr Rafferty had died, even though he had asked for her to return some of the items and had told his executors that he had not made the alleged gifts.

The Court ordered Enzina to return the items and pay the court costs.

Importantly although you have the right to leave your estate to whoever you wish, certain people may have the legal right to contest your final wishes.

There is no guarantee that a claim brought will be successful, but those who make the decision to exclude individuals or family members from benefiting from their estate should consider the risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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