Communication key in all Inheritance Disputes

Published 29 Jul 2013

Inheritance Disputes can be complex affairs, stemming from misunderstandings, miscommunications or disagreements about large or small decisions on the part of the deceased, the executor or the person who drew up the Will.

Often loved ones choose to Contest a Will when they believe they haven’t been left their fair share of a relative’s Estate.

UK private banking and wealth management firm Coutts released a report last week (July 23) which details the results of a study into how people plan to transfer their wealth to the next generation.

The report, ‘Breaking the wealth taboo: making succession a success’, aims to provide guidance to family members looking to overcome challenges such as how best to direct the distribution of their Estate when they have passed away.

“Families take different approaches to dividing their estate, and one of the key challenges they face is  whether to do this equally in terms of the number of children or whether they see fairness in some other form,” said the report’s authors.

While many may feel strongly about their stance on this topic, the authors note that it is a highly subjective affair where “there is no right answer”.

The report highlights some of the biggest influences on the way parents decide to distribute their Estate to their children and others in the next generation.

Among the most significant were maintaining the legacy, rewarding family members who show entrepreneurial spirit and the composition of a family.

When some siblings have more children than others, this can create inequality in the distribution of the parental Estate among them.

Other important factors were the perceived needs and abilities of children and the values of parents – some will reward children who reflect their own economic values more than those who seem to reject them.

Despite this large array of competing influences, the authors note that transparency is perhaps one of the best qualities a succession plan can have.

“One of the most powerful conclusions from our research is that families who communicate effectively usually experience a smoother transition of wealth than those who don’t,” the authors noted.

Even when Contesting a Will it is possible to maintain good relations with those you disagree with.

Often, being able to act through the intermediary of a legal expert can smooth the process for all parties as well as ensure your actions to challenge a loved one’s asset distribution go through the right channels.

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