Peter Stringfellow

Strip club king Peter Stringfellow left only a £1M estate despite amassing a £37M fortune. Flamboyant Peter, who died in June of 2018 at the age of 77, left most of his surprisingly small estate to his third wife, Bella, 41 years his junior.

It’s unclear whether the businessman’s estate was smaller than he anticipated due to his debts, tax liabilities or because his fortune had dwindled through the years. Stringfellow was known to enjoy life and confessed to paying over £1M to settle his divorce from one of his ex-wives. He reckoned 22 years of cheating cost him “£1,237.50 per fornication” then added, “Say £1,300 including candles and drinks.”

This leads us to what we can learn here. What happens if we leave more than what we have in our will? You guessed it, there’s a word for that…abatement.

But before we get to abatement, the first step is to identify the classes of gifts in the Last Will, some specific gifts may only be satisfied by getting that particular item, not a dollar equivalent “my gold watch”. Other bequests may be satisfied out of the general assets of the estate “$50,000 for each of my grandchildren.”   And then we have the residuary, the “everything else” clause. Once we categorize the gifts of the Last Wills, we can apply the rule of ABATEMENT.

Florida Law provides specific instructions on which assets must be first liquidated when administering an estate and there are not enough assets to cover all of the bequests. Those rules are identified in Florida Statute 733.805(1).

The general idea in Florida is that the more specific gifts are honored, to the greatest extent possible, to the detriment of more general or non-specific bequests.