An Act of Trust? My cousin Rachel

There’s a new reworking of Daphne Du Maurier’s 1951 story “My Cousin Rachel” that is currently in cinema’s. A romantic throw-back to a time when men wore britches and women had little to call their own, thank heaven we have moved on. This is perhaps a timely reworking of the story, visiting the issue of inherited wealth with a passing nod to the patronage of the landed gentry, whilst their labourers gather the proverbial scraps from under their table.

Philip Ashley (Sam Claflin) is an orphan, taken in by his Cornish, landowning bachelor cousin Ambrose. Sadly for Mr Ambrose, he becomes unwell and heads to Florence, where he is initially restored by the sun and charms of Rachel, who he elects to marry. His illness shortly returns, resulting in his mysterious death, leaving a widow and Philip to face the prospect of an early inheritance. Suspicious of foul play, due to letters from his dying cousin, Philip is determined to punish Rachel for what he believes she has done. “Whatever it cost my cousin in pain and suffering before he died I will return with full measure upon the woman that caused it.”

Under a Spell

As a somewhat naïve and hot-headed young man, he is mesmerized by his cousin’s widow when she arrives at the estate. All plans to punish are swiftly reversed and forgotten, because he “likes to look at Rachel”…. who is played rather brilliantly by Rachel Weisz.

I will not reveal any more of this thoroughly enjoyable tale, which will perhaps get you reflecting on whether women are viewed any differently today than they were then. In fact to say any more would not help your own reflections.

The thing about inheritance

However, I can say that the story is an example of why you need to have a Will and that it is reviewed regularly. Moreover (a word I use knowing the angst caused for my old French teacher, who swore it was redundant) it also displays some of the pitfalls of a Trust, or at least a Trust that reverts to a beneficiary who is only 25 and is unhelpfully naïve and besotted.

This is a common financial planning problem – at what age should someone inherit wealth? particularly a life-defining amount. For all the planning that can be done, this will inevitably boil down to how the Trust was established and who the Trustees are and to be blunt, how responsible the beneficiaries are.

In the story, Philip can rely on the steady hand of family friend and Trustee Nick Kendall, (Iain Glen) who whilst being a voice of reason, is also compromised by his hope that his daughter Louise, (Holliday Grainger) will marry Philip and thus be financially secure.  The Kendall’s suspicions are alert for conflicted reasons. Often selecting a Trustee can be a difficult task, the basics are that they must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind, and not held at her Majesty’s pleasure.

Selecting Your Trustees or Executors

Many clients will of course naturally wish to select family members or friends, there is nothing wrong with this, except that most families have at times, strained relations. Friends may change. The responsibility of being a Trustee or Executor is no small matter – just ask anyone that has been one (or is). This is why these important legal documents, which assure your beneficiaries of your provision, are reviewed regularly. In our post-modern society, people move around the world, not simply the county. Death at a distance (a fate that befell Ambrose) is rather more complex than that wedding you have been invited to abroad.  So when selecting Trustees, always use your head which may well conclude that those that share your surname are indeed the right people, but do think about this carefully.

Anyway, here is the trailer.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email