Cult horror playwright Anthony Shaffer’s secret life

Posted on: June 10th, 2015

Anthony Shaffer died in 2001 aged 75 years. He was famous for being a playwright and his works include the Alfred Hitchcock film, ‘Frenzy’, and the cult horror film the ‘Wicker Man’.

He had a complicated personal life. During his life Anthony married twice. With his first wife Carolyn he had two daughters. He met his second wife, the actress Dianne Cilento, on the set of the Wicker Man, at the time she was married to fellow actor Sean Connery but subsequently married Anthony Shaffer.

In 1999 Anthony Shaffer started a secret affair with a Capece Minutolo which continued until his death; spending time with her in London whilst his wife Dianne was living in the family home in Australia.

Anthony Shaffer died leaving a multi-million pound estate and in his will provided that his substantial estate should be divided between his first and second wife, his adult daughters and his two brothers. No provision was made for his mistress.

Under English law Mr Schaffer was entitled to leave his estate to whomsoever he wishes and there is no obligation to provide financially for spouses, partners, children or mistresses.

However under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 certain categories of person, such as spouses, partners, civil partners, former spouses and former partners, children or dependents can apply to the court for financial provision to be made for them out of the estate if they consider they have not been properly provided for in the will.

Ms Minutolo claimed that as the deceased’s mistress she had lived with him in London as if she were his wife for at least two years proceeding his death and that she had some financial dependency on him. She lodged a claim shortly after the playwright’s death.

In this Shaffer case the mistress’s claim failed but only because the courts decided that Australia had been the playwright’s home at the date of his death and therefore Ms Minetolo should bring her claim in the Australian Court.

Disputes of this nature do not just affect the families of the rich and famous. As people live longer it is not uncommon for them to have more than one marriage or relationship and possibly children from those different relationships.

Often the deceased’s will does not consider the implications of how family from different marriages should be provided for in a will. This leads to disputes that can be very distressing.

Coffin Mew have a dedicated, specialist and experienced team who can guide you through such claims to a successful resolution. If you think you may have a claim it is essential that you take legal advice without delay because there is a strict timeline for bringing a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 of six months from the date of the grant of probate.