Top tips on how to avoid probate disputes
Although probate disputes can cause a great deal of anguish for your loved ones, there are certain steps that you can take to avoid these upsetting disputes whilst you are still alive. Let’s take a quick look at some situations we are commonly asked to assist with following the death of a loved one.
One of the reasons there has been such a big rise in the number of probate disputes is the increasing number of step families. Many people are remarrying during middle-age and have grown-up children from previous relationships. It’s not uncommon for couples to make mirror wills that leave all their assets to each other, however, this means the family of the first to pass away could be left with nothing and the relatives of the second one to die can get everything. This can also occur if a spouse dies interstate without wills in place. One way to avoid the family of one spouse being left with nothing is to create a Trust Will. This ensures children are able to receive money, property and/or assets no matter who dies first.
The nature of family life means it’s not unusual for people to fall out with their relatives. This can include children becoming estranged from their parents. The parents may decide to “cut out” their children or some of their children from their will, or they may decide to leave assets to their grandchildren and skip a generation. To avoid disputes from occurring, wills can be drafted with an attached letter that explains why the child or children have become disinherited. Some people even opt to leave their assets to charities rather than their children.
The likelihood of wills being disputed by beneficiaries who feel they are entitled to something has grown substantially over the years. Some beneficiaries may decide to challenge a will because they think their parent or parents were confused or lacking in capacity when the document was drawn up. We aim to avoid this occurring by making sure the person is of sound mind when the will is created. If we suspect the person may not have full mental capacity, we aim to source a Doctor’s letter to confirm they do have capacity and ensure the document is valid.
From time-to-time, wills are contested because adult children think the will was produced or amended due to coercion or pressure. This can be avoided by choosing a reputable law firm like Nicholls Brimble and visiting us alone, so nobody can put pressure on you whilst the document is being drafted.
Claims may also be made if the person who has passed away was paying maintenance to a wife or child, as a result of a divorce for example, before their death. Because the deceased had a responsibility to provide for them, a claim for inheritance under the ‘Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975’ can be made by the affected parties. This is also true for co-habitants. As many people choose to live together rather than get married, this law still applies.
If you think you need advice in relation to a Probate dispute then please contact us on 0333 016 1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org