Statistics from the High Courts have seen a rise in the number of children contesting their parents’ wills since 2015. To help you avoid a family dispute over inheritances, we’ve put together a few tips.
In 2015, the number of children going to court to challenge the inheritance left by their parents was 116. This figure is reported to have risen by 11% to 129 in 2016.
An article in Today’s Wills and Probate suggests a number of reasons for why the figures of people challenging their inheritance in court might be rising, including longer lifespans and more complex family units.
One of the suggested reasons is that people are living longer, meaning that many parents assume that their middle-aged children are financially comfortable, and other family members or even charities may benefit from their money more.
This is coupled by increasing changes in the family unit. More and more families are made up of complex relationships including step-children or non-married partners, for example.
This can sometimes mean that certain people are left out of wills, or in the case where no will has been left, the laws of intestacy may exclude people that felt like they were a closer family member, yet have no legal ties to the deceased.
So how can you avoid leaving a wake of angry family members after you pass?
Recent statistics showed that approximately 27 million adults in the UK have not written a will. This leaves their families in a very uncertain position.
According to the laws of intestacy, any inheritance is usually split between the spouse and children. The spouse will receive the first £250,000 plus 50% of the remaining estate, the children get the rest in equal portions, but this changes as soon as stepchildren or unmarried partners are involved.
If, for example, you live with a long-term partner and you both have children from different relationships, your partner and their children may well be left with nothing unless you write a will.
Any will should be clear and detailed, so that any challenges to your wishes will be difficult to raise.
Many of these court cases could have been prevented with just a little communication as it’s usually the surprise at being left nothing that adds fuel to the fire.
Make your wishes clear to your children. If you want to leave money to charity, explain your reasons so that your children aren’t shocked to find out that they won’t be getting what they feel entitled to.
It’s important to remember that your children will already be grieving, so an explanation of your inheritance wishes can often ease the emotional pain for them later on.
If you have any questions regarding your will or probate, don’t hesitate to call one of our friendly and professional team on 0207 406 5875.
Ellie is a resident writer for Best Value Probate, covering topics such as Probate, wills and other legal proceedings.