Avoiding disputes over your legacy

Avoiding disputes over your legacy

We all make mistakes in life, but if you get it wrong when drawing up your will, the consequences can cost your family and loved ones dear.

There are three common mistakes people make when it comes to their will and this quick guide will help everything run smoothly after you are gone.

Do it Yourself Will

An increasing number of people are writing their own wills using cheaper DIY packages and some are even attempting to handle probate themselves. Unfortunately, many of these are leading to nasty family disputes further down the line.

Statistics show that the number of High Court disputes related to wills has increased by more than a third in the last five years, with the growing use of these DIY wills and probate partly to blame.

Last year almost 40 per cent of people executed wills without calling in an expert despite the danger of being sued by family members.

Common reasons for disputes include family members failing to get what they expect, verbal promises not reflected in the will, or the lack of provision for a dependant of the deceased.

Another danger is failing to pay sufficient inheritance tax, which can trigger an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs with penalties, which the executor may be liable to pay from their own pocket.

Outdated Wills

You also need to update your will after every major life event including marriage, divorce, a death in the family or the birth of a child.

Wills are rarely updated after big life events, but it can be incredibly expensive to let yours languish with outdated information.

While updating a will can seem costly and time-consuming, the fallout from failing to include second families or additional children can be much worse.

Many people do not realise that getting remarried can invalidate a previous will, forcing potential heirs to pursue a claim on death:

Non-Existent Wills

The most common mistake is failing to write a will at all. According to research, this is a mistake that six in every 10 Britons are making.

Just fewer than 40 per cent of people believe that they have nothing worth inheriting, whilst a third say they are too busy or writing a will hadn’t occurred to them.

Without a will, you cannot decide exactly who gets your assets after your death or ensure adequate provision for your financial dependants.

Worst of all it could leave any children you have who are under 18 or your unmarried partner who you cohabited with without their home or your joint wealth. As intestacy rules do not recognise married couples.