We are fortunate in England to have ultimate testamentary freedom; we can leave our estates to whomever we please when we die. However, where we fail to take advantage of this by making a will, the blunt instrument of the intestacy rules can have devastating effects. This was the case for the artist Fred Yates's estate, part of which passed to the Crown as he died without making a will and without heirs. Yates's dealer submitted a detailed proposal for his works to be displayed in Cornish museums facilitating public access which could be funded by royalties. Despite this, works are beginning to be sold off without regard to Yates's legacy or impact on the future value of his works. The message to artists, and to the rest of us, is a simple one: take advice and make a will. The alternative can have disastrous consequences.
An art dealer is calling on the UK government to reverse a policy he says will destroy a ground-breaking initiative to safeguard the legacy of Fred Yates and, potentially, other artists who have died without making a will.