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Fighting Over a Will

One in four Brits has been locked in a dispute over the will following the death of a loved one, a report revealed yesterday. As well as grieving, millions of families end up feuding over everything from property to cash to who keeps the urn.

The research also revealed that many families end up arguing even before a relative has died over the will and issues around how someone is cared for.

The study of 2,000 adults by wills specialist Slater and Gordon lawyers revealed one in five deaths now sparks a bust-up between families.

Slater and Gordon Associate Solicitor said, ’The death of a loved one is always a difficult time so it is a shame that so many families end up sustaining further emotional trauma by becoming embroiled into disputes over a will.

“Money, property and items of sentimental value are all argued over far too frequently and these disputes have resulted in many families being torn apart with relatives ruining relationships forever. What makes these situations so tragic is that this heartache can easily be avoided by making sure all loved ones have an up-to-date will which leaves everyone in no doubt as to their final wishes.”

A third of Brits have suspected other family members of taking more than was rightfully left to them in the will following the passing of a loved one.

One in four people have disagreed with how a will has been allocated, feeling certain family members were given more than they deserved. In fact, a quarter of the study had witnessed other family member or friends being more attentive to a sick or frail relative and suspected they were doing this because they knew it might benefit them financially once the person passed.

The same number has actively avoided someone at a funeral to avoid clashing with them, while one in twenty have had a physical fight with someone at a funeral or wake. While one in five Brits has someone they no longer talk to after things went sour following the death of a loved one. More than half the study felt that if you do more for a person in their life you become entitled to more in their will.

Mr Etherington said, "Disputes over a will can create long term problems with certain family members who may feel they’re entitled to more than others because of their close relationship to the deceased or the care they gave in their final days. But these feelings are usually subjective and only serve to show the importance of leaving a thorough will to ensure their loved-one’s wishes are clear.

"There is a general misconception that making a will should only be relevant when the person making it is of substantial wealth. But a will is not just about dividing up money and assets, it’s also important to set out the final wishes of the deceased; this could extend to who should look after surviving children, what form the funeral should take or who should inherit sentimental items of little monetary value.

"It is also important that people make their intentions known to their loved ones before they die to allow everyone to fully understand the thought process behind the will and save relatives from potential arguments."


1. Money
2. Who inherits property/ how ownership divided
3. Who pays for the funeral
4. Who gets invited to the funeral
5. Whether to sell a property
6. What music to play at the funeral
7. How the money is best spent
8. Where to host the funeral
9. The burial method - cremation or burial
10. Where to spread ashes
11. Other burial arrangements/ methods
12. What readings to have at the funeral
13. Who carries the coffin
14. The order in which the hearse is followed
15. What flowers to have at the funeral

Slater and Gordon are a leading personal injury law firm with 1,450 staff and offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Merseyside, Bristol, Newcastle, Halifax, Wakefield, Cambridge and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire.