The old saying goes that there are only two guarantees in life: death and taxes. Therefore, with this in mind, it makes sense why so many of us want to ensure that after we die, our hard-earned assets are passed to the people who mean the most to us.
Although Barrett & Co recommends that everybody should have a Will, there may be difficulties if you specifically want to include, or in fact exclude, individuals from inheriting your Estate.
Our Private Client team have written articles in the past on drafting valid Wills and why they are so important which you may find of interest.
It’s important to remember however that even with a solicitor drafted Will, legislation and case law can mean that after your death, your Will could still be challenged by persons who are of the belief that they have not been adequately provided for, or in fact, not provided for at all.
Who Could Claim?
Spouses and Children
Unlike in other European countries, there is no automatic right of a spouse or a child to receive a portion of your Estate under your Will, unlike under the Intestacy Rules which apply if you die without a valid Will. Because of this, should you wish to do so, you can leave your entire Estate to charity or other persons to whom you were connected to i.e. neighbours or friends.
Even though there is no automatic entitlement, spouses and children could feel aggrieved that they have been excluded or under-provided for.
For details of how such a claim could be initiated, please read our article from the Contentious Probate team on IPFDA 1975 claims.
It may be that if a person is too distant a connection to the deceased, the likelihood of successfully making a claim against the Will is limited. However, you should be aware that anybody could raise concerns or queries after your death. Therefore to ensure that these queries can be quickly and efficiently dealt with, you should take steps to ensure that the Will is drafted by a solicitor and possibly provide an accompanying Letter of Wishes to your Will explaining your reasons for excluding them.
Trying to prevent grievances after death
Sometimes to prevent family conflict it is advised to list a 3rd party or professionals as your Executors. Executors are the people who handle your affairs and assets after your death, including paying any tax due and completing final distributions. It is important to discuss with your solicitors, the options of potentially instructing them as your Executors upon death if you believe that a family member or friend may feel aggrieved by your distribution decisions. This may prevent family fall-outs and ensures that the Estate is administered in a way which is clear, transparent, and most importantly, unbiased.
Specific Exclusion Clauses
The solicitor drafting your Will should be able to talk through this option with you. It may be that your situation means that you want to highlight and name those people whom you would not want to inherit your Estate. If drafted correctly, this could give greater security in highlighting to your Executor(s) your wishes and may also assist against any claims or requests from aggrieved persons to include them post-death.
If you believe that one of your family or friends may raise a claim or concern about your decisions in your Will, please contact our Contentious Probate Team on 0118 958 9711 who can review your concerns in an initial fixed fee meeting of £95.00 inclusive of VAT for 1 hour.
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Get in Touch
Jane Whitfield can meet with you to discuss your personal circumstances, your options and your next steps. This would normally take place in our office in Reading, Berkshire. During the coronavirus situation, however, all of our meetings are currently being carried out either by telephone or by video link.
If you would like to meet with Jane, please telephone the office so that an appointment can be made for you. If you would like to take up our offer of a one-hour £95 fixed fee meeting, please click for more details.
Jane is a Solicitor specialising in Private Client matters. Jane is a qualified Trusts & Estate Practitioner with STEP (Society of Trusts & Estates Practitioners) and a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly, as well as being a Dementia Friends Champion. Jane is also President of the Berks, Bucks & Oxfordshire Law Society.