Could Your Will cause controversy once you’re gone? Make sure you’ve consulted a Solicitor to ensure all bases are covered.

Your will is your sure-fire way to ensure your assets are distributed as per your intentions after you are gone.
But in a world where family fallouts are ever more frequent, instructions set out in wills can cause upset, argument and in some cases challenges to their validity.

We recently spoke with Director & Solicitor Anne Caswell on the importance of making sure your will has been professionally drafted, especially if it is bound to cause controversy…

‘I’ve just read the headline to an article in a well-known newspaper “Why I use my Will as a weapon to keep my family in line. If they offend me they’re out……..”

 In my experience, this isn’t unusual. Clients may not realise it, or admit to it, but that’s what they are doing. 

 It’s not just a way of keeping someone in line. That family member (usually a child) who has offended you, or has not spoken to you for years, or has behaved badly towards you, or has made a lifestyle choice that you don’t agree with suddenly finds themselves, on your death, out of your Will. It’s “Payback.”

 I made a Will recently for a client who left one of their children out of their Will because they didn’t want to be the one responsible for putting them in an early grave. Sadly, drugs are just one of the things that clients tell me about. Another client, who made a similar Will, was watching his CCTV the whole time I was at their house to make sure their child was nowhere near the house (in breach of their bail conditions).

 Another client came to see me because their previous Solicitor didn’t do “contentious Wills.” That client also wanted to leave one of their children out of their Will – in this case because the child had stolen money from them. Sometimes I think that if I didn’t do contentious Wills, I wouldn’t do any Wills.

 A few years ago, a disappointed child said to “One has an expectation of what one will receive on the death of one’s parent.” What I learned from this is that even clients who want to leave to leave money to their grandchildren (because they think that their children have enough money of their own) need to be careful.

 A recent case of Nathan v Leonard held that it’s not against public policy to provide that a beneficiary who challenges a Will loses the benefit given in the Will. This may give clients something else to think about..

 We all have testamentary freedom – that is the choice to leave our estate to whoever we want to. But, as I always point out to clients, The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 allows certain categories of people (including children) to make a claim on their parent’s estate if the Will does not make reasonable financial provision for them.

 So, you need to have all your ducks in a row (as one of my old partners used to say). You need to see a Solicitor, you need to be clear what you are doing and why, and you need to be prepared to put your reasons in writing (or tell your Solicitor and they Will do it).

 Also, and please don’t be offended if your Solicitor suggests this, you may need to consent to an assessment of your mental or testamentary capacity. The simple fact is that the older you are the more likely it is that the family member who isn’t in your Will will claim that you didn’t know what you are doing.

We've Got Your Back

If you need assistance or advice in regard to any aspect of this issue, we can help

Call Anne on 01977 781351, email enquiries@watsonramsbottom.com, talk to us via live chat or complete our online enquiry form and one of our experts will contact you.