Inheritance warning as disputes could impact your estate and family – act now
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Inheritance can be difficult to sort out at the best of times, but if a person has not clearly laid out their wishes ahead of time, major problems could ensue. Express.co.uk spoke to Elaine Roche, Partner at Kuits and board director of Solicitors for the Elderly about the matter. She said: “It’s very tricky when disputes about inheritance come into the question, but I think there are ways to try to avoid this.
“Often we’ll have conversations with clients where there might be a different approach to who gets what.
“For example, one child could be given something during lifetime, and parents either have that discussion with the whole family or write a letter to explain their approach.
“There are families who won’t leave everything to the children equally for very fair reasons – for example, one child being a stepchild and thus inheriting from their other parent as well, as well as from this family unit.”
For this reason, Ms Roche expressed the need for people to write down their wishes plainly in their Last Will and Testament.
This is due to the fact issues like this can be missed later down the line, particularly when families become emotional.
If a person has a rational letter or note which states the reason as to why they have divided their estate, it could help avoid disputes.
The expert cited another instance where it could be necessary to act on estate planning sooner rather than later.
She continued: “There is another instance we’ve seen for example, where a family has one child who will never be able to work professionally, whereas the others are in high-flying careers.
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“As a result, they have chosen to leave more money to the child who doesn’t have so much of a working potential.
“But they’ve left a note to avoid arguments about one child being ‘lazy’ over the others and therefore explaining their rationale.”
A failure to sort out one’s estate could also prove costly, as Ms Roche went on to highlight.
Individuals, particularly executors, could find themselves tied up in probate and delays which mean they end up paying out more.
Consequently, it could mean Britons end up inheriting less as money left over is funnelled towards expensive costs.
In addition, if someone’s wishes are not properly laid out, a person who is disappointed could take their grievance further.
Ms Roche added: “The disappointed beneficiary could bring a case under the Financial Provision Act or regarding undue influence.
“That can get costly and cause a lot of heartache, too.”
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As a result, Ms Roche has urged people to put some time aside to consider all the elements of their estate and their wishes for after they have gone.
Once these are established, they should be discussed with family members ahead of time, or wishes written down in a formal document.
She concluded: “Granted, there are ways and means of doing this, and you will know your family dynamic best, and the most appropriate way to approach this.
“You have to think it through and explain your reasons. Make it clear as to what you are doing.
“Some families will fall out anyway, and it can’t be prevented. But if there is written evidence, then it can assist if there is a dispute.”
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