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Wills and Probate News

Georgia Owen

Creator of BBC series criticises inheritance law

Georgia Owen

16
Jun

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Inheritance law has recently been criticised by the creator of a BBC series after a baron’s daughter did not inherit her father’s title or land.

Downton Abbey creator, Lord Fellowes of West Stafford drew attention to the unfairness of the law after Baron Braybrooke’s 55-year old daughter Amanda Murray was unable to inherit any of his 6,000 acre Audley estate. Due to the peerage which prioritises male heirs, neither Amanda nor any of her six sisters were eligible to inherit the 10th Baron’s title.

Instead, it will be passed to an alcohol price comparison website and Richard Neville, a distant cousin. The estate will go to art historian, Louise Newman.

Newman will inherit the estate under the terms of the 7th Baron’s will, written in 1941.  Within the will, it stated that the estate should return to his line, in any Lord Braybrooke was unable to produce a male heir.

Having previously described the law as “discriminatory”, Mrs Murray drew attention to the estate at present and how she was running it successfully.

Commenting on the unfairness, she stated: “My poor father had no son; just lots of daughters. In this day and age, with supposed equality, why am I not allowed to inherit my father’s estate?”

Given the likeness of the situation to a storyline in the BBC programme Downton Abbey, Murray’s circumstances have been described as the “real-life Downton”. In the series, three daughters of an Earl did not receive their father’s estate, with a distant male cousin becoming the heir instead.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Fellowes highlighted the unfairness of Murray’s situation.

“It seems rather hard on Amanda. She’s lived and worked there all her adult life.”

He also drew attention to similar circumstances which had happened within his own life, stating that his wife had been unable to inherit title when the Earl of Kitchener had passed away. This was despite her being a descendant.

 

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