After seeing a rise in the number of disputes between family members following the death of a loved one, we decided to commission research to show the importance of writing a valid will and explaining the reasons behind your decisions to your children and family.
To support the research we will be releasing a series of blogs which highlight issues surrounding will writing and family feuds over inheritance.
Our recent study which quizzed over 2,000 parents with more than one child over the age of 16, found that more than a third have not got a will.
The younger the adult the less likely they were to have a will and the more children they had the less likely they were to have written a will.
More women had failed to prepare a will than men.
Northern Ireland was the area which had the highest percentage of people who had not written a will (49 per cent) closely followed by the North East (47 per cent) and Wales (46 per cent).
I have no doubt that many people will be shocked by the finding that one in 10 parents admit to favouring one child in their will, but a closer look at the responses to the survey and you will find that in some circumstances it makes sense to leave more to one child than another.
For 12 per cent of those who said they would not split their assets equally between their children it was because one child was more likely to need financial help than the other, in some of these cases, it is because of their a child’s special needs or a disability. Meanwhile, others choose to cut children out of their will because they are already self-sufficient and it is their wishes to leave a legacy donation to charity.
Most people who had discussed their will and how they were planning to divide assets with their children found it a positive experience, with 87 per cent noting that the children completely understood and four per cent finding that it changed their relationship for the better.
Most of those who have not talked about their will with their family said that this was either because they felt there was no need to or because they hadn’t been able to get round to it yet.
In my work, I frequently come across contentious probate where people contest or dispute a will. This can place stress on all the individuals involved, and although we manage to resolve a great deal of these cases thorough Alternative Dispute Resolution, in many cases this can be avoided entirely with an open and honest conversation.
Talking about death can be hard, but in communicating with your loved ones the reasons behind the decisions you have made in your last will and testament you can help reduce the potential for a falling out or a family feud over who gets what when you pass away.
At Slater and Gordon Lawyers, we have a vast amount of experience in dealing with wills, probate and estate administration issues. To speak with our wills and probate solicitors call freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we will call you back at a convenient time.
Phil Appleby is an associate and team leader for the wills, trust, tax and probate team in Chester.