In an ideal world, creating a valid and easily interpretable will would be as simple as writing a shopping or to-do list. It would be something we could ‘see to’ when we had a spare few moments, and forget about ever after.
In reality, putting together a will strong enough to safeguard against any disputes or upsets after we die is entirely possible, but, without an experienced solicitor, it is by no means a guarantee. As a result, it is all too easy for siblings to find themselves in a will dispute – one that can easily dwarf months, if not years, and their relationship with one another.
Fortunately, steps can be taken to avoid disputes over a parent’s assets both before and after the parent dies.
This is, of course, the most obvious entry on this list. The best way to prevent a will dispute is to take the significance of an expertly-advised will seriously in the first place.
While will dispute solicitors are there to provide an invaluable service to those who need it, the better option is always to actively safeguard against that eventuality. If not, long-term rifts can open up between siblings who once enjoyed strong relationships.
DIY wills, while convenient, can create many pitfalls that can undermine your efforts to plan for your children’s futures. Avoid these at all costs.
Communication is Key
It is not necessary for a parent to elaborate on the contents of their will, or to prepare their children for every single decision made within it. Rather, it is important to get the salient points out in the open.
For instance, it is a good idea for all siblings to be aware of the will’s existence. And, if anything is stipulated within that will that might cause shock – or lead to a dispute – it is far better to prepare everyone ahead of time. For instance, if it has been decided that one sibling will not inherit then, without prior warning, they may look to challenge the will further down the line.
In this instance, communication – both within, and beyond the will – is important.
Don’t Overlook the Importance of Sentimental Items
When we sit down to think about our estates, it is only natural that our minds first go to the high value items: property, bank accounts, investments and digital assets. It is, of course, imperative that these assets are properly addressed in the will, but we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that sentimental items with little to no financial value will simply be shared out between siblings.
Sentimental items can help us feel better after we’ve lost someone. The best wills will address both sides of that coin, and ensure that your wishes don’t just focus on your most financially valuable assets.
Assign an Executor or Trustee
If you think there is a chance that a dispute could arise in the future, it is a good idea to appoint a professional executor or trustee who can represent a neutral (and highly experienced) third-party throughout the process of inheritance.
If a parent dies without a will, then the job of dividing assets between siblings is left to the courts. This can create a lot of stress and strain between siblings, and should definitely be avoided in order to preserve the integrity of the family unit.