Excluding Family Members from your Will – The Facts
Blog | 15th May 2018
Wills, Trusts, Tax & Probate
No one can choose their family and it’s unfortunate that we receive many instructions from clients who have had breakdowns in family relationships or unexpected circumstances and as a result wish to make changes to their Wills. The most common situation we encounter is that of a parent who wants to exclude a child from a Will. There are many reasons why they may want to do this and it’s important that you share these reasons with your solicitor. The reason why you are excluding someone can affect the advice we give and you should always be rest assured that anything disclosed to your solicitor is strictly confidential.
Sometimes children can prove irresponsible with their money which can cause great concern for a parent who has an estate which they don’t want to see given as a lump sum and then frittered away. An inheritance of a large lump sum may also not always be in the best interests of a child and their own circumstances may need to be taken into account. For example, a beneficiary who has their own tax liability may not want to receive further assets which would exacerbate this problem. Another scenario is a child who is in receipt of means-tested benefits and they could lose them if they suddenly receive a large amount of capital. In these circumstances a parent often wants to see their child looked after but needs some protection in place to ensure the inheritance is safeguarded from negative circumstances.
There are also the inevitable cases where the relationship between a child and parent has broken down and perhaps they haven’t seen each other for many years. In this circumstance the parent is usually concerned that following their death the child may try to make a claim against the estate through the courts for a share in the estate. Although there is no way of preventing a disgruntled family member seeking legal advice and making a court application with the right preparation there are ways in which we can minimise the chances of their claim being successful. Having your Will properly drafted by an independent professional is the first step and it is also important to prepare a Letter of Wishes to be stored alongside your Will which explains in a clear and measured way why you have chosen to distribute your estate in a particular way and these statements can be considered by the court if the need arises.
Emma Green, Wills & Probate Solicitor says “When it comes to Wills it is not a case of “one size fits all” and there are many things which can be done to ensure that your Will takes into account all of your circumstances and the circumstances of those who will ultimately inherit. A Will should be viewed as a working document which needs to be kept up to date and reviewed regularly. At the very least it should be reconsidered when personal or family circumstances change.”
To review your Will or discuss your circumstances and find out how we can help speak to one of our specialists today.