A lot of people ask – what is the point of making a Will if it is going to be contested or disputed by disappointed beneficiaries who have not been left anything in the Will, or if the Executor appointed is someone that the deceased person was no longer in contact with, or they no longer trust.
In relation to appointing Executors, the fact of the matter is that when the Will was drafted, say 10 to 15 years ago, the deceased may have got on very well with that person who they appointed as Executor and they trusted them at the time to carry out such a responsible role. Unfortunately, events happen and people fall out and become untrustworthy. The problem is, however, that people don’t think of changing their Wills when their attitudes towards people change and don’t appreciate that if they don’t change their Wills before they pass away, then the original Executor (who they don’t want to act), is legally entitled to do so. As you can imagine, disputes can occur between the beneficiaries of the estate and the Executor and a lot of mistrust develops during the administration of the estate. Such situations, therefore, can cause Applications to the Court for the removal of the Executor if the beneficiaries do not feel that the Executor is carrying out their duties. This of course can cost the estate and also delay the administration. What should have happened is that the deceased, prior to their death, should have changed their Will to appoint somebody else who they want and trust to act as an Executor which would have avoided these problems.
Another issue, which people don’t appreciate in relation to their Wills, is leaving family members out who are dependent on them financially. For example, if dad gives regular financial support to their daughter and dad then passes away and leaves everything either to their new wife, or indeed new partner, thinking that they would do the right thing and they don’t, then the new wife or partner could leave everything to their family and the daughter would not benefit. The daughter could potentially make a claim against the estate. If the dad, in our situation, had taken proper legal advice, he would have been advised to make financial provision in the Will for the daughter and to review his Will on a regular basis to make sure that the amount left would provide reasonable financial support for the daughter so that this would mitigate and lessen the chance of her being able to make a claim against the estate. If advice is not taken and the previous scenario arises then this of course can lead again to Court action and involve high costs and delays in relation to the administration of the estate.
If, indeed, you are encountering an inheritance dispute already and would like to know more, then please contact our specialist team who would be happy to advise you.