Avoiding Inheritance Disputes: How to Create a Legally Binding Will
Creating a legally binding will is an essential step in ensuring that your estate is distributed according to your wishes after you die. It allows you to decide who should inherit from you, how much they should inherit, and when they should inherit it.
However, if your will is unclear, ambiguous, or does not comply with legal requirements, it may be challenged, leading to costly and time-consuming inheritance disputes.
According to a report by The Independent, the number of will disputes in the UK has increased by 62% over the past decade. The report states that in 2019, there were 188 cases brought to the High Court by family members and other beneficiaries who were contesting the contents of a will, up from just 116 cases in 2010.
The reasons for will disputes can vary, but they often stem from disagreements over the distribution of assets, allegations of undue influence, or claims of incompetence or lack of capacity on the part of the testator (the person who made the will). These statistics highlight the importance of creating a clear and legally binding will to avoid disputes and ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away.
Here are some tips for creating a legally binding will and avoiding inheritance disputes:
- Seek professional advice: If you have complex circumstances, such as a large estate or business interests, it's recommended that you seek the advice of a solicitor or other professional to ensure that your will is legally sound.
- Be clear and unambiguous: Make sure your will is clear and unambiguous and that it reflects your wishes. Include all the necessary details, such as the names of your beneficiaries, the assets they will inherit, and any conditions or restrictions you wish to place on the inheritance.
- Consider potential disputes: Anticipate any potential disputes and include provisions in your will to address them. For example, if you have a family member who may contest your will, you may want to include a "no contest" clause, which disinherits anyone who challenges the will.
- Appoint an executor: Choose someone you trust to carry out the instructions in your will. This can be a family member, friend, or solicitor.
- Sign your will correctly: You must sign your will in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries or their spouses/partners. The witnesses must sign the will in your presence.
- Store your will safely: Keep your will in a safe place, such as a bank safety deposit box, and let your executor know where it is.
- Review your will regularly: It's important to review your will regularly, especially after major life events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of children or grandchildren. Make any necessary changes to ensure your will remains up-to-date and reflects your current wishes.
By following these tips, you can create a legally binding will that reflects your wishes and helps avoid inheritance disputes. Remember, seeking the advice of a solicitor or other professional can help ensure that your will is legally sound and that your loved ones are provided for after you pass away.
Jonathan Owen and his team of financial planners have more than 15 years of experience. The team have helped generations of families prepare for their future through various services, including Will Writing, protecting their property through Will Trusts, setting out Lasting Power of Attorneys, Family Protection Trusts, and preparing for their final journey with Funeral Plans, taking the burden away from their loved ones.
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