Losing a family member can sometimes bring out the worst in people, leading to family conflicts and falling outs. In this article, we’re sharing five tips for reducing family conflict by making sure that you leave a proper, legally binding will.
A death can bring out the worst in the deceased’s family as they squabble over who gets what, leading to family members falling out and, in some cases, even legal action.
Contesting a will in the UK can be a long drawn-out process, but this can be avoided by making the contents of your will as clear as possible, as well as hiring the services of a solicitor to make sure that it is legally binding.
In this article, we’re sharing 5 tips to reduce family conflict with a will.
What is a will?
A will, or Last Will & Testament, is a document which is created in order to make your intentions clear in terms of who will inherit your possessions in the event of your death. In a will, a person is able to state who gets what and under what circumstances in order to remove any doubt as to the wishes of the deceased.
A will should usually be drawn up by a solicitor who will keep a copy of the document to prevent tampering. When drawing up a will, your solicitor will advise you on a number of different options depending on your circumstances to ensure that you and your family are protected.
How to reduce family conflict with a will
Nobody likes the thought of their family feuding after their death and, in this section, we’ll run through five ways in which you can help to prevent this:
First, make a will
Shockingly, surveys show that 59% of UK adults have not yet created a will, with reasons ranging from procrastination to a simple reluctance to think about their own demise.
When a person dies without a will (known as dying intestate), the division of the person’s assets will be handled by a probate court. This may lead to fighting within the family as members try to stake a claim on the assets.
Making sure that you create a will and file a copy with a solicitor is a great way of removing any ambiguity regarding your wishes.
It’s good to talk
In a lot of cases, family arguments occur following the reading of a person’s will due to the fact that a family member may have assumed that they would inherit an asset which turns out not to be the case. Once you have created your will, it’s a good idea to then discuss it with your family.
Although some members may not necessarily be happy with the contents, talking it through with them means that there won’t be any nasty surprises which may lead to conflicts.
While it is possible to exclude a person or people from your will, this can be complicated if that person is a spouse or biological child. Although you may state in your will that your biological child is to be excluded, that child may nonetheless be able to refute it.
For this reason, when excluding someone, you should include with your will a handwritten letter stating all of your reasons for doing so which may prove helpful should the case go to court.
A Living Trust
However you decide to divvy up your assets, with the best will in the world (if you’ll excuse the pun), you won’t be there to play referee should this be necessary. For this reason, it’s sensible to create a living trust and to appoint a trustee. This allows you to choose a trusted individual to oversee things once you are no longer able to.
Keep your promises
It’s very common for a person to, during their lifetime, promise certain items to specific people after their death. This can be a major cause of family conflict and can leave people feeling cheated and disgruntled. For example, you might verbally promise a grandchild a specific piece of jewellery only to fail to include this in your will.
To avoid family conflicts, it’s important to honour your promises or to offer an explanation as to why you changed your mind. Otherwise, you’re putting that person in the extremely awkward position of claiming that they were promised the item without being able to offer any tangible proof.
They may also then be forced to go through legal action in a bid to claim ownership of that item – which is not a legacy anybody wants to leave for their loved ones.
Avoiding conflict after you die is the goal
Making a will is the only effective way of making sure that your assets and belongings go to the right people after your death. Without this, you may just be sentencing your family to years of legal wrangling.
After making your initial will, this should be reviewed every year and updated where applicable – for example, adding a new child or grandchild to the document. Although it is possible to make your own will online, this is generally not advisable as this is a legal document and should, therefore, be drafted and overseen by a qualified solicitor.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a legal professional if you’re seeking advice about making a will. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.