Contesting a Will may be an option open to those who feel left out of a loved one’s Estate distribution, are unhappy with the way a Will is being executed, or doubt the testamentary capacity of the deceased at the time they dictated their wishes.
While disputes can arise even when the wishes of the deceased were well known and duly recorded in their Will, early preparation and communication can reduce the likelihood of stressful disagreements coming to the fore after the passing of a loved one.
A recent survey by UK wealth management firm Coutts puts the spotlight on how prepared families in the UK are for the challenges of inheritance.
The report, Breaking the wealth taboo: making succession a success, reveals that 58 per cent of those surveyed did not have an up-to-date Will.
Having a Will in the first place is a good start, but a document that represents preferences that have since changed could create just as much confusion as having no Will at all.
In fact, with intestacy rules applying in the case of someone dying intestate, it can be more difficult to navigate the contested distribution of a loved one’s assets when there is a Will.
The authors of the report say that keeping their Will current is “crucial” for anyone that wants to shield their family from conflict after they have passed away.
This may contribute to the added revelation that one in three families dealing with the transfer of wealth to the next generation suffer conflict.
“Wills that are out of date are potentially unsuitable for meeting their intended objectives,” said the authors.
A complicating factor is the lack of communication between parents and the next generation about their plans for their Estate in the event they die.
“In many cases, children do not find out about their inheritance until parents have died, so the reasoning behind decisions is often unclear and there is nowhere to go for answers,” the authors said.
There could be many reasons why this happens. One possibility is that parents don’t know how to bring the subject up; another, that their own parents never did, so they have no example to follow.