Legal Issues Around Inheritance

March 15, 2019 9:47 am

In theory, inheritance should be simple- you leave a will, and people inherit based on your wishes. But there are various issues that can occur, and it is important to be aware of these, both when writing a will and other issues around inheritance.

Everything equal

A lot of the time when people write a will they stipulate that their children (or other people who stand to benefit) receive everything equally. This can be relatively simple when it comes to money, but this can become more complicated if there are assets involved or personal items.

One way around this can be to have items valued or to leave specific items with specific relatives. With a will, you can put whatever you want, so it is possible to specify why you are leaving items with different relatives. You will need to update this if you sell any items, as people cannot receive alternative items if these are not specified in the will.

Influence

One aspect that can be challenged is the idea of someone being “of sound mind”. This is why it is important to choose someone responsible to be the executor of your will, as well as (if necessary) appointing someone with a power of attorney.

There is the danger that your will could be challenged if it is felt that you were not of sound mind when you made it or were unduly influenced. This is why it is recommended that you regularly review your will and if necessary update it to include remarriage, step or adopted children and so forth.

It also should be stated that children are not automatically entitled to any money- a challenge can be made if it is felt there were undue influence or if a child is financially dependent on the parent in question.

Trust

If a child is under the age of 18, then any funds are held in trust, although a will can specify whatever age a parent or guardian feels is appropriate (for example to provide funding for education). If you are concerned that the trustees are not handling the money properly, it is possible to ask for a copy of the will or take legal advice if you feel you need to take the matter further.

Why it is important to have a will

It is important to have a will so that people know what your wishes are. This can cover everything from who inherits what to how you want the funeral planned, who looks after your children and so forth.

While you can create a will without legal advice, there is the risk that the words involved can be misinterpreted or potentially challenged. It is important to make sure that people understand what you want and for this to be delivered as securely as possible.

As a family firm, Larcomes is dedicated to guiding people through this process. We have a team of legal specialists that work closely with clients to look at what they want from their will and creating something appropriate to the needs of themselves and their loved ones. For more information, please contact us today.


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