£8 Million Ming vase collection to be broken up following inheritance dispute
4 August 2016 by Susanne Grimwade
Sir Michael Butler a former aide to Margaret Thatcher died on Christmas Eve 2013. During Sir Michael’s lifetime he amassed a truly unique 17th Century collection of 500 Chinese porcelain ceramics valued at £8 million. Experts have sighted the collection to be “the finest and most extensive collection of its kind”.
For the last six years Sir Michael’s younger children Katharine and Charles have been locked in a bitter legal dispute with their elder siblings to keep the collection as a whole in The Butler Family’s private museum in Mapperton Dorset where Sir Michael once lived. However, Sir Michael’s elder children Caroline and James have successfully won a ruling in the High Court of Justice which means the collection will now be broken up with each sibling entitled to choose 125 pieces each.
In an interview following the ruling last week Katharine said “The world’s best collection of Chinese porcelain from that era will be broken up and dispersed, when our father made it very clear he wanted it kept together.”
Sadly disputes involving the distribution of personal effects are common place following a death as these items often carry emotional connotations. In order to ensure your personal effects go to the beneficiaries of your choice it is essential clear instructions are set out in your Will. Whilst it is not necessary to itemise every single item care should be taken as to whether the personal effects are to be given to an individual or sold and the proceeds distributed among a number of beneficiaries. Care should also be taken regarding the practicality of certain gifts. For example is it really wise to leave a car to an individual who is unable to drive, or a painting to be shared among several people living in different countries!
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