Sponsored post: How to avoid disputes over inheritance estates

When a close family member dies, the grief can be debilitating. There are few, if any, more emotionally difficult times than when a parent, grandparent, sibling or child passes away. It’s really no surprise that at this time, when the materialism of an inheritance is juxtaposed with the grief of mourning, previously solid families can be riven with disputes.

Inter-family legacy disputes are more common that you might think. And while disputes over multi-million-pound estates and within noteworthy families grab the headlines, estates of little value can still cause fierce ruptures and long-lasting damage to family relationships.

So what can you do to make sure you avoid contributing to a dispute when you pass away?

Where there’s a will . . .
Wills are no guarantee of a dispute-free legacy, but they at least make sure that the desires of the deceased are executed.Making a will is something many of us put off, either because of the perceived effort it entails or because of not wishing to acknowledge death, but having one in place can bring considerable peace of mind.

A will is a powerful document because it protects your loved ones and establishes who you want to execute your estate. Without a will, the rules of intestacy take over, and this can mean the people you wanted to inherit your savings, property and possessions can lose out.

Intestacy is particularly dangerous for people with unmarried partners: only husbands and wives are guaranteed any inheritance, so long-standing partners might lose out in the absence of a will. Meanwhile, married partners are only guaranteed up to £250,000, so if you wanted to leave your husband or wife everything, a will is essential.

Intestacy lays the foundations for a messy inheritance, where different parties squabble over what they think is rightfully theirs, or seek to exclude people they do not believe should benefit. This can be exacerbated by unsuitable people becoming the executors of your estate.

Under intestacy laws, your next of kin can fill out probate forms and take on the role of executor(s) to your estate. This can be problematic; the role of the executor is absolutely key, as they have an onerous responsibility to fulfil, and they should be someone you trust to carry out your wishes. By writing a will and specifying your executors, you can lay strong foundations.

Speak to your inheritors
Aside from writing a will, the best way to ensure your family don’t tear themselves apart fighting over your estate is to be up front with them when writing your will.

Not surprisingly, many disputes arise when a family member has been left out of the will or received considerably less than others. There are countless reasons why you might make this arrangement – perhaps they’re considerably better off than their siblings or have benefited in some other way previously. But your decision might be misconstrued or disputed if the first your relative hears of it is when your will is being read out.

It might be difficult to bring up, but it’s the right thing to do, and can save a lot of difficulty in the long-term. And as, unfortunately, age comes hand in hand with reduced mental and physical capacity for some of us, you should have these conversations before it’s too late.

November 22, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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