Disinheritance isn’t a decision taken lightly. If you intend not to leave your estate to your children or dependents, it’s essential to act now to draft a will that leaves no room for dispute.
How are estates usually divided up?
The usual division of a person’s estate is that assets would be shared between a spouse, children and other direct relations. The rise in blended families is creating a lot of grey areas in this area.
Consideration should be given to former spouses and step-children, who may be compelled, and legally permitted to challenge any exclusion.
What’s the legal standpoint?
The law is pretty clear that excluded dependants have a right to claim. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 states that a spouse, former spouse, child or any other dependant can apply to the courts to intervene if they believe their loved one’s estate doesn’t make reasonable provision for them. Factors affecting court decisions include the current financial position of the person appealing and the impact on other beneficiaries.
How to ensure your disinheritance isn’t challenged?
Family relationships are complex. If you’ve decided disinheritance is right for you, there are ways to protect your legacy from a future challenge.
For blended families, consider what’s right and fair. Think about obligations to children from previous relationships, your former partner but also your current family set-up and any people who depend on you financially there.
Ensure your solicitor keeps attendance and discussion notes throughout your meetings. And, document your reasons for cutting your child out of your Will, evidencing that you have considered them but made the active choice to disinherit them. Your solicitor will keep these records, to be cited in the event of a claim on the estate.
A doctor’s assessment and signatory may be worth considering, if the person writing the Will lacks capacity to make decisions. For example, if there are mental health issues, the person is elderly or medicated, the Will could be challenged.
Many people choose to provide a token gesture to a family member they’re disinheriting, drafting legal agreements that prevent or deter them from making a claim. Others prefer to set up trusts.
However, the courts do have the power to call these funds back into your estate if they suspect nefarious reasons for doing so. Specialist legal advice is required in such circumstances.
To ensure your Will is respected, call one of our specialist team at legalmatters, on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.