Why discussing the contents of your will is so important as disputes rise

Category: News

A recent report from Today’s Wills and Probate confirms that nearly half of UK adults don’t have a will in place.

While arranging a will is high on many to-do lists, the task can remain on our lists for a long time. In fact, a quarter of over-30s who plan to write a will admit that they would likely “prioritise watching TV”.

An up-to-date will is key to making your wishes known and frank conversations can help to lower the chances of disputes once you are gone. Communication is particularly important if you plan to distribute your wealth unevenly or even skip a generation.

Keep reading for some important dos and don’ts of will writing, and how Globe IFA – and our relationship with Penrose Wills – can help.

Communicating openly about the contents of your will is vital as dispute numbers rise

The report in Today’s Wills and Probate was conducted by the Association of Lifetime Lawyers, formerly known as Solicitors for the Elderly.

A spokesperson for that organisation reaffirmed the importance of legally communicating your wishes through a will, saying that poor uptake “could leave many bereaved families distressed”.

This distress can result from dealing with the difficult and time-consuming process of probate, an especially difficult task if your wishes aren’t known. Even when you know how you want to distribute your wealth, issues can arise if these wishes aren’t openly communicated.

The Ministry of Justice recently confirmed that court cases relating to will disputes have risen by over 34% since 2017, with several high-profile cases making the news.

Last year, the family of the late soul singer Aretha Franklin finally settled a five-year-long dispute after a handwritten “will” was found down the back of the singer’s sofa. Closer to home, a High Court judge ruled against five grandchildren who disputed the £50 payout they received from their grandfather’s £500,000 estate.

If you don’t have a will in place or you haven’t checked in with it for a while, now is the time to start thinking about who you want to benefit from your wealth.

A MoneyAge report from 2021 found that around half (55%) of UK adults intended to split their wealth equally among their children. More than a third (37%), meanwhile, confirmed that they would be upset to receive a smaller share than their sibling.

You’ll have multiple factors to consider, including any financial support you have already provided. It’s also worth considering the tax implications of skipping a generation and giving directly to your grandchildren.

Tax-efficient estate planning might mean giving while living or even skipping a generation

With the nil-rate and residence nil-rate Inheritance Tax (IHT) bands currently frozen, minimising an IHT liability should be a key part of your estate planning.

If your estate is large, there’s a chance that passing it down through the generations on death – to your children, who in turn pass it to your children, and so on – could result in multiple IHT liabilities and more than one bill to pay.

In this situation, you might use your will to skip your children and leave money directly to your grandchildren, lessening the IHT impact.

As previously mentioned, discussing these decisions with your loved ones can help avoid disputes later, so be clear about your reasons and be prepared to stand by your decision if disagreements occur.

A case study

The judge in a recent High Court case found that the late Frederick Ward Senior was “entirely” rational when he opted to leave just £50 to the children of his deceased son.

Mr Ward Senior used his will to express disappointment over the lack of hospital visits from his late son’s children and the majority of the estate was split between his surviving children.

Dismissing the granddaughter’s claim that the will was “invalid”, the Judge found in favour of Mr Ward Senior’s wishes and his surviving children.

While disagreements can’t always be avoided, the dispute took four years (and huge amounts of stress on all sides) to resolve, underlining the importance of frank, and occasionally difficult conversations.

Further reading:

Last year, we looked at the importance of estate planning as Inheritance Tax receipts rise and spoke about gifting rules.

Certain HMRC exemptions could allow you to lower the value of your estate during your lifetime through gifting. This has the added benefit that you’ll still be around to see the difference your money makes, whether to your children, grandchildren or wider family.

Once you decide to write your will, speak to Penrose Wills, and then check in with it regularly

At Globe IFA we understand the importance of an up-to-date will, but we also know that making time for these important life admin tasks can be tough.

That’s why we partnered with Penrose Wills, to help you make the will-writing process quick, easy, and hassle-free.

You’ll have peace of mind that you’re dealing with professionals and that your wishes will be legally documented. It will then be up to you to decide if and when you relay these wishes to the involved parties.

It’s also important to remember that life events can change your priorities so be sure to check in with your will regularly.

Get in touch

With IHT receipts increasing – and will disputes on the rise – ensuring you have an up-to-date will and estate plan in place is more important than ever. Please email hello@globeifa.co.uk or call us on 020 8891 0711 to discuss how Globe IFA’s expert financial advisors can help you.

Please note

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax planning or will writing.