Making a Will won't extend your life but will reduce family arguments by Eilish Adams - The Law House Family Law Solicitors, London & Peterborough


Making a Will won’t extend your life but will reduce family arguments by Eilish Adams

By in All Blogs, Wills, Trusts & Probate Category on May 12th, 2016

In the papers this yesterday it was reported that disputes over Will increased again in 2015. You might say “Hard to believe” but that is the growing situation year on year.

The big question is why? You would think that with all the media attention to famous people who have died without having made a Will that the obvious decision would be to make a Will but sadly this is not the case. With “Dying Matters Awareness Week” and “The Big Question” up and running it is hoped that the public’s awareness will be raised not only about the need to talk about dying but the need to make your wishes known by making a Will.

Why do people not talk about dying and making Wills?  For many, they think that any conversation about death can somehow bring death closer. No matter how many times you let a client know that this is unlikely they still shy away from the idea of talking about it. Mostly people feel that it is too morbid, it makes them sad or they don’t want to upset their families. Solicitors who work in the field of Wills and probate and who know the impact of not making a Will are equally guilty. They frequently don’t have Wills in place, so not that different from the general population at large. It seems that solicitors are human after all!

Having  worked in the field of Wills, trusts and probate for some time the most common reasons I see for putting off making a Will are as follows:

  • I will die sooner. Simply not true!
  • I don’t have much to leave. While this may be true for now it may always be true for the future. Besides, would you want people dealing with your personal belongings and your private papers? Not having a Will means that the control over who deals with your estate is minimal. How many times have I heard “she said I could have it when she died” or “when I’m gone it’s yours”. People will argue over the most mundane and silly things.
  • Combined or blended families, particularly where there are children from an earlier relationship. Individuals who bring different levels of financial input into a marriage can find it difficult to discuss who inherits what on second death especially if one has brought less financially into the relationship. A big factor is that rarely do newlyweds wants to talk about death so early event though the consequences of not making a Will in combined families can have a bigger impact long term.
  • Estranged children. Sadly this is not uncommon for children to fall out with their parents and be out of contact for many years. This can be down to minor incidents or perceived slights that have festered over time or more serious issues such as drug addiction, violence or criminal acts. Their absence and the emotional stress that goes with it can make it difficult to decide on who inherits. Parents know that for the children who remain in contact with them and continue to be supportive would be unhappy if the absent child were to inherit equally. This conflict leads to inaction and indecision. If you decided to leave equally you run the risk of creating a split between the children that many never be repaired once you have gone.
  • Gifting based on need and not on “fairness”. This is very common and even though parents love their children equally they will often worry about a child who is less financially stable, perhaps in a career that will never earn them enough to buy a home. The other children may be in a better position financially long term but it is amazing how on death, where there is unequal benefit, that the emotions override reason. If your plan is unequal distribution then it is best to discuss what your intentions earlier so that on death there are no big surprises and no hard feelings.

Whatever your reasons for not talking about death or making Will it is important not to ignore the inevitable. The fallout if you don’t make a Will is as much emotional as it is financial. The lack of a Will can create the very thing you wish to avoid and that is family conflict and relationship breakdown.

If you would like expert advice on making Wills the contact Eilish Adams on 020 8899 6620 or email her at eadams@thelawhouse.com.