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Are you in the Midst of a Family Feud over a Will?

13 May 2019

Family feuds over Wills are on the rise

In most cases when a person dies their estate will be administered in line with their Will (or under the rules of intestacy if there is no Will). However, in recent times, more people are contesting inheritance. In 2017, The Financial Times reported that inheritance disputes taken to the High Court in 2016 had risen by 36 %. 158 claims were brought under the Inheritance Act 1975, an increase from 116 claims the previous year.

There are a number of reasons for the increase in disputes. Unfortunately, sometimes families can fall out over inheritance and these fall-outs often stem from previous difficult relationships. Family structures are becoming more complex, with step and blended families on the rise. Also, there are more people co-habiting. Many co-habiting couples fail to make or amend Wills, because they believe that they will inherit their partner’s estate automatically because they are in a relationship. This is not the case, and as a result the Will is contested after the death of a loved one.

Another reason for the rise is down to the increased use of DIY wills. Unfortunately, a number of these wills have not been executed correctly as they had been drawn up without legal advice.

There are a number of reasons for family disputes arising over Wills; it could be due to the value of assets, costs incurred by executors, actions of executors, suitability of executors or items and amounts left by the deceased to other family members.

How to avoid a family feud over a Will

There are many ways to avoid a dispute over a Will. The easiest way is communication: try to be open about any Wills that have been made, and discuss the terms with the family. Keep Wills current, update it if there are any changes in circumstances. If you have a new partner, or if you separate, it is a good idea to update your Will.

Family disputes can arise in a number of ways. Family members can feel excluded from the Will, or a substantial portion, or it could be that a part of the inheritance has been left to charity. These feelings are often heightened due to the sense of loss following the death of a family member. Hepburn Delaney are experienced in dealing with family feuds and can help you. 

If there is a family feud over the Will, try to resolve it using mediation. This can be a quicker process than the court one and often costs less.

You may have seen that several of Michael Jackson’s siblings had a family feud over his Will, writing a joint letter to the executors. They made accusations that Michael had a fall out with the executors in the months leading to his death, though this has been disputed.

If you have any concerns about probate or a Will, or if you are having a family feud over a Will, then Hepburn Delaney solicitors can help you. Please call us on 01442 218 090 or use our contact form.