Family Disputes Over Wills And Inheritance

By Peter Stafford – Managing Director

Recent cases in the press have again highlighted the increasing number of cases being brought in the courts in relation to a family member’s Will or lack thereof.

Last year we highlighted potential claims involving the estate of Heath Ledger (who had not made a Will but left a fiancée and daughter), Prince (because he left no Will but various family members) and the writer, Steig Larsson (again who left a partner but no Will).  Some of these cases have been resolved amicably, some are likely to be played out in court over many years.

It is still the case that many people fail to make a Will without realising that this may create unnecessary problems in the future for their families, close ones or partners.  If you don’t make a Will then you will be deemed to have died intestate and certain specific rules will apply.

If you live with your partner, but are not married or in a civil partnership, then if sadly either of you dies unexpectedly your partner will not automatically inherit your estate if you have not left a Will. In fact if there are other blood relatives they will inherit.

This can cause even greater problems when there are young children, or increasingly in this day and age where there are young children from different relationships.  No Will will mean that a number of firms of solicitors will have to get involved and an estate can soon be swallowed up in legal costs.

Drafting your own Will has its risks.  There are complicated rules relating to the drawing up of a Will, such as tax issues and who should witness the Will as but two examples we have come across recently.  If you get it wrong, as does happen not infrequently, you may find that any gift left to you or a loved one in a Will fails.

To avoid an expensive situation arising in the future which may cause acrimony between family members you should be making a Will now, even if you are aged under 25 but with assets to leave.  You may also want to have a Power of Attorney drawn up should anything unexpected happen to you leaving you without capacity to deal with your own affairs.

At Cartmell Shepherd we have over 12 expert lawyers dealing with these kinds of matters, including the drawing up of Wills, Powers of Attorney and advising in disputes – including Care claims.  Please contact us on 01228 516666 to make an appointment today.

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Throughout my claim, I felt completely confident that you had my best interests at heart. The advice you gave us throughout was clear and not misleading, and again I felt the advice given was best for me, not best for you or your firm.

Client 28th May 2015