When you die, you should ensure you leave an up to date valid Will. This is a legal document that sets out your final wishes regarding who will deal with your assets and who will benefit from them.
Although a properly drawn Will is legally binding, there are ways to contest or dispute it.
This often happens when confusion or dispute arises in the division of your estate between beneficiaries, or if you were not crystal clear about your wishes within the document itself or If the document has been homemade and perhaps not properly signed and/or witnessed. this is why it is always vitally important to use an experienced and qualified Solicitor at Sweeney Miller Law when making your Will.
Unfortunately, there is no way you can completely lock down your Will against any contests or disputes following your death. However, you can take the following steps to help avoid this situation…
Plan as early as you can
Although this is a morbid thought, it’s important to start considering your Will when you’re still mentally capable enough to write it. If family members have reason to dispute your mental capacity at the time of the Will writing, they may use this as a reason to question your final wishes.
Use a professional lawyer
By working with a professional Wills and Probate lawyer, you can rest assured that any potential loopholes or pitfalls are protected, meaning your Will is best protected against any challenges
Something is better than nothing
If you do not make provision for certain relatives and others in your Will they may have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. A qualified and experienced Solicitor at Sweeney Miller Law can advise you on this and on the steps to take to avoid such claims.
Avoid regular payments
If before your death you were in the habit of making regular payments to a family member that you now wish to leave out of your Will, you may find that they challenge this, claiming that they were being ‘maintained’ financially by you. Avoid making regular payments like this to avoid such a claim being succesful.
Write an accompanying letter
Wills are legal documents, meaning they’re no-frills and straight to the point. If you wish to add context to your decisions and elicit understanding in your family members and friends, you could write an accompanying letter explaining your choices.
Keep your family members in the loop
A Will is a legal document and is therefore confidential and a Solicitor cannot disclose the content without your consent however it is up to you whether you discuss the content with beneficiaries, that is your choice, however we would always advise that you inform your executor(s) of the location of your Will so they can easily locate it if you die.
If you’re planning on leaving a sizeable portion of your Estate (or a specific sum of money) to a particular charity, it makes sense to donate to them during your lifetime. This will leave little to contest, as you’ll have demonstrated your support throughout your life.
Consider a Discretionary Trust
A Discretionary Trust allows a trustee(s) to be responsible for distributing your estate to your named beneficiaries as they deem it appropriate. You can also write a letter of wishes to accompany the Discretionary Trust in a way that gives your trustee(s) a better idea of how you want your Estate managed.
Book regular reviews
If you can, aim to review your Will at least once every 3 years. This shows that you are aware of any changing family situations or increases/decreases in your assets and makes sure your Will mentions the right people and legacies. Of course if your family circumstances change such as a marriage, divorce, separation or you have children then you should review your will with a specialist Wills & Probate Solicitor at Sweeney Miller Law who will advise on any changes required to your Will.
Sweeney Miller: Wills & Probate Lawyers
Get in touch with a member of the Sweeney Miller Law estate planning team today to discuss the writing of your Will, and to explore how you can best protect it against any disputes or legal challenges.