Making clear those whom you do not wish to benefit from your estate can be as important as detailing the beneficiaries; particularly when it comes to family members – those most likely to contest a Will.
Any Will can be contested and quite often this is by a disgruntled or an estranged, family member. When any Will is contested, the process is referred to as ‘Contentious Probate.
Whilst to the outside observer, excluding a family member might sound harsh and perhaps even unfair; we are not always armed with the facts and reasons surrounding such a decision. Extended families and divorces can often lead to one time – close family members falling out, becoming estranged and excluded from Wills.
Sometimes it can be a problem child that has had thousands of pounds lavished on them – over the years, only to let their parents down again and again. Or simply a family member, or a once close friend, who has caused you to suffer much torment. However, whatever the reasons it isn’t your Will writing team’s job to question your wishes; it’s our job to ensure, as far as is possible, that your Will can’t be contested and that your express wishes are adhered to once you pass on.
With this in mind, it is important that your Will writing team works with you to put a specific exclusion clause within your Will. This needs to be written correctly to prevent any contentious probate.
It is also a good idea to produce a separate ‘Letter of Wishes’ going into a little detail as to why you excluded the individual(s) from your Will. This letter must not form part of the Will since if it becomes separated it could suggest the Will has been tampered or is incomplete with the result that the Will becomes ‘void.’ Unlike the Will, the Letter of Wishes’ does not have to be witnessed.
What all the above achieves is to minimise the chances of your Will being successfully challenged by making your wishes and your reasons for them absolutely clear. However, as with all your Will wishes and instructions, it certainly can’t hurt to make your decisions known to family members and close friends. A common knowledge of your wishes can further help in the event of a Will being challenged and Contentious Probate.
Additionally, a discretionary trust can be used to help minimise the risk of a successful claim, speak with Dunham McCarthy’s Will writing team today and find out how best to ensure that your wishes are followed, advice is free of charge, call 01785 336222.