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Family Inheritance Disputes And How To Avoid Them

Bereaved woman in crisisCommunication Is Key To Avoiding Beneficiary Rivalries

How to avoid serious family inheritance disputes and beneficiary rivalry when a person leaves a will. Communicating your wishes before your death is key.

When a loved one dies, processes occur to divide up the person’s estate amongst those that they have left behind. If the person hasn’t left a will, then the next of kin can usually apply for a grant of representation to become the administrator of their estate. However, if the deceased person did leave a will, then the executor will inform the named beneficiaries in the document. Ideally they will be informed about their entitlement reasonably early in the process to give them the opportunity to raise any queries early on before the estate is divided up.

Unhappy Families

Unfortunately, there are many situations where family members or close friends are not at all satisfied with the arrangements that have been left in the will. Some children may feel that their siblings have been unfairly favoured over themselves, whilst others might be miffed that the majority of the estate has been left to a new step-parent. In some cases, a person’s family may be completely surprised to discover that the estate is being left entirely to a charity. These occurrences can cause a great deal of hurt, confusion and turmoil. Quite often the result can be probate court, mediation or litigation battles which are decidedly stressful and expensive yet do not always end with a positive outcome.

How To Avoid Family Inheritance Disputes

If you are in the process of drawing up a will and want to avoid your nearest and dearest being at loggerheads in the event of your departure, then there are a number of ways to ensure that everyone is at peace with your wishes. The key to avoiding family inheritance disputes is communication.

Peter Collins from LFC Risk and Insurance gives this advice: “If possible, take the time to sit down and review your plans with those involved to ensure that they understand the reasons behind your wishes. Even if they do not, then at least there will no big surprises in store for them after your death when they’re in the midst of the grieving process.”

If someone in your family believes that they are inheriting something which either doesn’t exist or is being left to someone else, then informing them sooner rather than later is an important step in softening the blow emotionally. Having a conversation also ensures that beneficiaries realise that these are in fact your personal wishes and that you are not being coerced into these decisions by someone else.

Beneficiaries Must Come Prepared

On the other side of the table, if you have recently lost someone and are expecting to inherit part or all of a person’s estate, then it is important to brace yourself for the realisation that you might receive much less than you are wishing for. It is best to prepare yourself mentally for this scenario and be ready to compromise.

Unfortunately, some families are not able to come to terms with the contents of a will and distressing inheritance disputes do occur. It is vital that executors of a will protect themselves both legally and financially by taking out some Executors Protection Insurance.