We come together (when allowed) to celebrate weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas’s, weekends away, holidays. We celebrate life together, putting aside our differences (as best we can) for significant dates in the diary – and we comfort one another when we grieve.

But families are always complex and only ever one step away from breakdowns in communication… and all-out war!

Over this Christmas break (2020), and at the end of an already difficult year for so many, it was sad to hear about the disputes over Willie Thorne’s estate.


The dispute


Most of us will remember the late Willie Thorne as a great snooker player and a fantastic commentator on the sport. After he passed away last June, it is sad to see his family hit the headlines with a dispute over his estate and wishes. Instead of a respectful and peaceful memorial, there is conflict between his wife and his children from a previous marriage. This reminds me of how important it is to have your wishes secured in a professional Will – before the question comes up.

Instead of supporting each other in the grief of losing a man they all loved, his family have fought over his snooker cue. His children wanting to keep it as a family heirloom, to retain something that was such a personal possession. His wife wanting to auction it to raise money for Willie’s favourite charity, 20-20 Voice Cancer. Where Willie was a patron following the loss of his brother to throat cancer. Both sides seem reasonable in what they wish and I can empathise with both arguments – wanting to keep a cherished possession close versus wanting to raise money to help Willie’s legacy live on.


Thorne, pictured playing snooker in 1976


It is clear from the reports that whatever Willies last wishes were, they were not laid out clearly to those closest to him. Newspapers reporting statements from his wife, Fiona, such as “There is some controversy as we wanted the cue to remain in the family” and “Willie was emphatic he wanted Tristan [his son].. to look after his affairs when he died, and there are several witnesses to that”. These uncertainties only add conflict to grief, only exacerbate feelings of sadness.


Your Will, your wishes


This is one of the reasons that I do this work, supporting people in making their wishes clear. So that when families are faced with the sadness of losing a loved one, they are saved from the exhaustion of dividing assets ‘fairly’ (means different things to different people). Because a Will is final. It’s your last word, and in it you appoint who you want to look after your estate (your Executors) and who your possessions should go to. Precisely. So that there isn’t an argument, like the one we see here.

If Willie Thorne did have a Will, then in the media it seems like it’s being disputed. Going to court over a disputed Will can be extremely expensive. And very stressful.

Making a Will is the best way to minimise potential disputes after you’re gone. For me, I’ll remember Willie for the great player that he was, and someone I always enjoyed hearing on TV doing his commentaries.