Sir Bruce Forsyth has left all of his £17million estate to his wife to avoid it being gobbled up by the taxman, according to a friend.
No inheritance tax is due when a fortune is passed to a spouse or civil partner instead of children.
Once the fortune is transferred, Sir Bruce’s third wife former Miss World Wilnelia can then give up to £650,000 to each of his relatives tax free.
Bruce Forsyth has left all of his £17million estate to his wife to avoid it being gobbled up by the taxman, according to a friend. Pictured: Sir Bruce and Wilnelia at home in Wentworth, Surrey
A source told the Daily Star Sunday’s Ed Gleave: ‘Bruce hated the idea of his estate getting devalued by inheritance tax and spoke about that publicly before his death.
‘But leaving everything to Wilnelia means he avoids inheritance tax. ‘He is likely to have done that as he trusted her to distribute the wealth among their relatives.
Net Worth £17m
Private company £6.2m
Surrey mansion £4m
Savings and other assets £4m
Two Puerto Rico properties £2m
Autobiography fee £500k
Strictly pay per series £500k
After dinner speaking £25k a pop
State pension £97.65/week. Never claimed
‘And because she can give a significant amount away tax-free to their family, it means they end up with more.’
Sir Bruce, who died aged 89 on Friday leaving six children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, has described inheritance tax as ‘a bit over the top’.
The entertainer, who had a keen interest in politics and once revealed he taped Prime Minister’s Questions each week, told the Radio Times: ‘I think your inheritance should go to your children more than back to the country that you’ve lived in.
‘I’m not saying you don’t owe the country something, of course you owe your country a lot for living there all those years. But I think it can be a bit over the top.’
Sir Bruce’s company, Bruce Forsyth Enterprises, is worth £5.7million and his home is worth an estimated £4million.
Generation games: With first wife Penny and their young daughters in 1963
In a statement on Friday afternoon, his family said Sir Bruce died peacefully surrounded by his wife and children.
The statement read: ‘It is with great sadness that the Forsyth family announce that Sir Bruce passed away this afternoon, peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children.
‘A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last eighteen months.
‘With a twinkle in his eye, he responded ‘I’ve been very, very busy… being ill!’ Unfortunately, not long after this, his health deteriorated and he contracted bronchial pneumonia.
‘The family would like to express their thanks to the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness and know that they will share in part, the great, great loss they feel.’
With third wife Wilnelia and his six children at home in Wentworth in 2015
Sir Bruce pictured in 1958. His career as an entertainer began after the war when he toured the country performing a strong man act in circuses and in theatres
The legendary broadcaster and entertainer was considered a national treasure by fans, former colleagues and stars of screen and stage alike.
His former Strictly Come Dancing co-host Claudia Winkleman declared: ‘He was the King of TV, the Prince of performers and the most generous of people, all toe-tapping twinkle, all kindness, all love. The Bruce you saw really was the man he was. We’ll miss him so much.’
Fellow Strictly host Tess Daly added: ‘There are no words to describe how heartbroken I am to be told the saddest news, that my dear friend Sir Bruce Forsyth has passed away.
‘From the moment we met, Bruce and I did nothing but laugh our way through a decade of working together on Strictly Come Dancing and I will never forget his generosity, his brilliant sense of humour and his drive to entertain the audiences he so loved.
Chuffed: Sir Bruce Forsyth poses after he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on October 12, 2011
Sir Bruce Forsyth performs on the Avalon Stage at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 30, 2013
‘He was a gentleman and a true legend and I will miss him deeply. My heart goes out to Winnie, his wife, and his beautiful family at this sad time.’
TV host Vernon Kay said: ‘It’s been an honour to be able to get to know Sir Bruce as a friend. And we will cherish the times we spent together. He defined Saturday Night telly and re wrote the book on TV Hosting… Will miss his energy and fun both in the studio and on the golf course.’
Stephen Fry tweeted: ‘There was only one Brucie – it was more than to nice to see you, to see you more than nice.’
Piers Morgan said the broadcaster was ‘one of Britain’s greatest ever entertainers & a lovely man.’
And BBC Director-General Tony Hall called Sir Bruce ‘one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known.’
HE FIRST APPEARED ON TV WHEN NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN WAS PRIME MINISTER: FACTS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT SIR BRUCE FORSYTH
Kimberley Cowell and Bruce Forsyth
When Forsyth was first broadcast into homes up and down the land, Neville Chamberlain was behind the door of 10 Downing Street and Britain was entering into the Second World War. It was 1939 and he was taking his musical act on to the BBC as part of a talent show. Just under two decades later in 1958, the year of the first parking tickets and transatlantic airlines, he first hosted Sunday Night At The London Palladium.
But the entertainer’s ambitions were not always set as high as prime-time glory. He told one BBC interviewer early in his career: ‘I want to be famous and buy my mum a fur coat.’
Being a long-standing practitioner of variety performance, Forsyth was known for conquering many artistic disciplines in his career. He performed comedy, danced, played instruments ranging from the ukulele to the accordion and even sang on a few novelty records.
As a tap-dancing youngster, he dreamed of becoming a star of the calibre of Fred Astaire.
Although most fondly known by the moniker ‘Brucie’, Forsyth first appeared on stage under a different name – Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom. He first took to the stage in his early teens as a variety act.
He was drafted into the RAF aged 19 and was an advocate of conscription. He said his experiences during national service taught him ‘respect and discipline’.
Forsyth stayed sprightly well into his 80s and attributed his energy to having a young wife, Wilnelia, who was 30 years his junior. ‘We won’t talk about the age gap, that will make me feel tired. But she does keep me young,’ he said in 2008.
The veteran entertainer long had an appetite for politics as well as entertainment and recorded the BBC’s political debating showcase Question Time every week.
Despite having experienced many shifts in viewers’ taste over the course of his career in television, Forsyth could never stand one thing – swearing. He told a magazine in 2004 that he thought bad language was ‘disgusting’.
Sunday Night At The London Palladium: The Beatles – Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon with Bruce Forsyth