Disinheriting those closest to you?
I frequently come across situations whereby someone wishes to put a Will in place but does not want to leave any part of their estate to those closest to them. This may include a spouse, children, or perhaps someone who is financially dependent on them.
Some would say we are privileged in this country to have what is called testamentary freedom, being the ability to leave our entire estate to whoever we want.
There may be many reasons as to why they wish to disinherit someone, and most reasons are perfectly valid. They include being estranged from family, having the worry that their children will waste their inheritance on frivolous things, or perhaps there is a problem with addiction. It may also simply be because that person is financially comfortable and would have no need for the inheritance.
Whatever the reason, it is important to consider the below key points when doing so.
Think about claims!
Despite our testamentary freedom, the law does allow a certain category of people to make a claim against your estate if they believe they should have been left something under the Will. Perhaps they’ve been left very little or nothing at all.
Those people include spouses and civil partners (and potentially former spouses/civil partners!), children (and those treated as children of the family), unmarried partners who have lived together for more than 2 years, and those who were financially reliant on you.
You cannot stop claims being brought against your estate, but you can limit the chance of claims being successful.
Talk openly about your wishes where possible
If at all possible, I always encourage my clients to talk to those closest to them about their wishes. This allows for openness and can limit any stress and heartache at a later stage. It won’t come as a big shock to them at a time when they’ve just lost a loved one.
If talking openly is not possible, I recommend leaving a Letter of Wishes to be stored with the Will. This explains why your Will says what it does and perhaps why certain people have not inherited. Again, it limits any upset later.
Use a professional
It is important to go through the proper channels when making a Will. Instructing a qualified solicitor means that you will get the appropriate advice as to who can claim and how best to protect your estate from any claim being successful.
We will discuss with you your options as it may be the case that you do wish to leave your children something but at a later age if you’re worried about them wasting it. You may wish to put money into a trust which can be managed appropriately. There are different options available to you, but you need to seek the right advice.
During all of our meetings, detailed attendance notes will be made which record your wishes and we will give you the right advice in accordance with what you wish to achieve. This is all in an effort to make sure your intention is clear and that your estate is protected against claims.
If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised within this article, please contact Raegan Leather, Associate Solicitor within our Wills, Trusts & Probate team, on 01752 827920 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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