Q&A: Advice for avoiding inheritance disputes
Thank you for all of your legal questions over the last month. Our friendly team of experts randomly chose to answer the following question:
“I have recently had an argument with my adult son and I no longer want him to inherit any part of my Estate. I have two other adult children and I want to leave it all to them, but I am worried that he will come after his siblings’ inheritance. Is there anything I can do to avoid him claiming against my Estate?”
With the number of claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Dependants) Act 1975 rising, it is paramount to consider this question carefully. Unfortunately, there is no “fool-proof” way of guarding your Estate against claims but while you cannot prevent anyone from claiming against your Estate, there are several measures you can take to minimise the risk of a claim. The two most common measures are as follows:
1. Understand the Intestacy Rules / Make a Will
If you do not have a valid Will in place at the date of your death, your Estate will be distributed in accordance with what is referred to as ‘Intestacy Rules’. Depending on your circumstances, your son may inherit a share of your Estate and therefore, you may wish to prepare a Will as soon as possible to express your wishes regarding his share of your Estate.
If you are certain that you do not wish to leave him anything in your Will, you may wish to prepare a side letter outlining why you have not included your son in your Will – although such letter may not prevent your son from making a claim, it would serve as useful evidence of the fact that you have considered him while making your Will and it was a deliberate decision not to include him.
2. Consider leaving something small
Rather than leaving your son out entirely from your Will, you may wish to consider leaving him a “token” gift instead. As the side letter mentioned above, this will demonstrate that you have thought of your son while making your Will and the sum of money or asset you decided to leave him was as far as you were prepared to benefit him. You can also couple this with a side letter to make your intentions clear in respect of the extent of his inheritance from your Estate.
If you need further information regarding any of the information above, or if you wish to review or make a new Will, then please do not hesitate to contact us either by telephone on 01985 214444 or by email at email@example.com.
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Just a short note to once again express my sincere thanks to you, Sue and the M&U team, for all your help, cooperation and first class professional support. I am most grateful to you all.Chris Stephenson, Warminster