Your Will, Your Family & Inheritance Disputes | Curtis Parkinson
Your Will Your Family and Inheritance Disputes

Your Will, Your Family & Inheritance Disputes

Disappointed beneficiaries take family members to court over their inheritance (or lack of it) more than ever before. Notwithstanding the sharp spike in court cases last year, many inheritance disputes are settled out of court after a lot of (expensive) legal to-ing and fro-ing.

Inheritance disputes are destructive and expensive. But, with careful planning and taking time to think about what you want, you can avoid family arguments over an inheritance.

Top Tips to Prevent a Dispute Over Inheritance

#01 – Make a Will

It might seem obvious, but almost 70% of adults in the UK don’t make a Will. And dying without leaving a valid Will means it’s unlikely that the state will divide your assets in the way you’d like. Couples who cohabit or are separated but not yet divorced are less likely to inherit under the Intestacy Rules. Furthermore, if you want to exclude someone close to you from inheriting your Estate, making a Will is necessary.

#02 – Take Professional Advice

It may surprise you to learn that many people challenge a Will on technical grounds. Taking professional advice means that the wording of your Will is not ambiguous. A lawyer will also make sure the Will is properly signed and witnessed, removing the risk of questions over validity or meaning.

Taking advice from a lawyer who must make sure the person making a Will understands what they are doing will also fend off a challenge based on undue influence.

#03 – Make Sure Your Will Suits Your Circumstances

Your circumstances dictate the type of Will you should choose.  For example, mirror Wills are rarely appropriate where there is a second relationship involved. Stepparents disinheriting children from a previous relationship is a common cause of inheritance disputes. However, including a trust arrangement in your Will can protect your children’s inheritance on the second death whilst providing for the surviving partner or spouse in the meantime.

#04 – Consider Writing a Letter of Wishes

Setting down your wishes in a letter that’s separate from your Will is worth doing. It explains why you’ve chosen your beneficiaries or perhaps why you have expressly excluded someone. Beware, ask for professional help. A lawyer will write the letter with considerable care and legal know-how. Writing it yourself may create more problems than it solves.

#05 – Consider No Contest Clause

Leaving a legacy in your Will for someone you might consider excluding, on condition they don’t challenge the Will (known as a Forfeiture clause), can prevent a dispute. Ultimately, it may not prevent them from making a challenge but should make them think twice.

#06 – Discuss Your Will Openly

Talk openly about what you’re planning with those involved. Managing expectations is helpful to ward off future disharmony.

Our Advice

Taking specialist legal advice on how to structure your Will is vital if you want to avoid costly, emotionally difficult family battles over your Estate.

For further information or advice about making a Will, Estate Planning or challenging a Will, please contact us. We’re here to help.

Please note that all views, comments or opinions expressed are for information only and do not constitute and should not be interpreted as being comprehensive or as giving legal advice. No one should seek to rely or act upon, or refrain from acting upon, the views, comments or opinions expressed herein without first obtaining specialist, professional or independent advice. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Curtis Parkinson cannot be held liable for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies.

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