Family disputes over wills

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Disputes surrounding wills and inheritances are, unfortunately, a common occurrence within families, often tarnishing the bonds that tie everyone together.

Hidden beneath the legacies and bequests, particularly those of significant value, lie deep-seated emotions and vested interests that can inevitably lead to discord among the surviving family members.

In the event of a dispute arising from a will, such as a feeling of unjust exclusion, it can eventually become necessary to bring the matter before the courts. For instance, an unmarried partner may assert a claim for provision from the estate and, by demonstrating financial reliance on the the deceased, secure a portion of the estate.

The complexity of family wills

Family inheritances are inherently intricate due to the emotional and financial complexities woven into them. Often the division of assets, especially within diverse and multifaceted family structures, stirs up a range of emotions – grief, betrayal, envy, and many others. These emotions frequently lead to strained relationships or, in more extreme cases, irreversible family rifts. Such intense emotions often result in prolonged legal battles, as beneficiaries strive to obtain what they believe to be their fair share.

Engaging in legal disputes over wills tends to exacerbate already strained family dynamics and, by their very nature, come at a time of heightened emotion and grief. Historical evidence shows that family relationships can be irreparably damaged by these battles, both inside and outside the courtroom. Even previously amicable ties can be torn apart as hidden rivalries and resentments are brought to the forefront, often manipulated by external parties with their own interests at heart.

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Scott Taylor

Scott Taylor

Partner | Private wealth disputes

01483 464274

Can relatives dispute a will?

Relatives can dispute a will if they believe it is invalid, typically due to concerns about the deceased’s mental capacity, undue influence, or improper execution. Legal advice is often sought to navigate the complexities of contesting a will.

How do you resolve family conflict over inheritance?

Resolving family conflict over inheritance can be challenging but is essential for maintaining family harmony. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Consult a solicitor experienced in inheritance law to clarify legal rights and potential solutions.
  • Encourage all parties to express their feelings and concerns, ensuring everyone feels heard.
  • Ensure that the deceased’s will is clear, current, and addresses potential areas of contention.
  • Organise a meeting where the contents of the will can be discussed openly, ideally before the benefactor passes.
  • Engage a neutral third-party mediator who can help guide discussions and offer solutions.
  • Family therapy can help address deeper-seated issues and improve communication.
  • All parties may need to adjust their expectations and find middle ground.
  • Ensure that any agreements made are documented in writing to avoid future disputes.
  • It’s important to remember the value of family relationships and not let disputes over material possessions cause irreparable damage.

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The pivotal role of legal experts in mitigating disputes

Addressing family disputes with a keen sensitivity towards preserving underlying relationships wherever possible is paramount. Legal experts such as Moore Barlow LLP often find themselves tasked with not only navigating the complex process of will disputes but also mediating between conflicted parties in a bid to forge resolutions that help preserve family relationships.

Addressing family inheritance conflicts through Alternative Dispute Resolution

Utilising Alternative Dispute Resolution to navigate through family inheritance disputes often emerges as a more cost-effective and less stressful strategy compared to traditional court proceedings. It not only offers a less confrontational approach, thus preserving family relationships, but also ensures that the matter remains confidential.

Engaging in alternative dispute resolution options like mediation and family arbitration enables more personal involvement in shaping the outcome, as individuals are empowered to present their own arguments, without the constraints of a court timetable.

Various types and methods of alternative dispute resolution are available, one of which is Mediation. Within this approach, all disputing parties will have their own room, in which the mediator will enter, facilitating a calm discussion about the contentious issues. The mediator assists in fostering dialogue and helping the parties reach a collective decision, which can be legally enforced by way of a sealed consent order filed at Court or a settlement agreement if there are no Court proceedings underway.

How can our private wealth dispute solicitors help?

Our private wealth dispute solicitors are experts in resolving disputes related to inheritance, wills, trusts, and estates. We provide tailored advice and representation to individuals and families in complex and high-value disputes. Our team adopts a strategic and proactive approach to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients, whether through negotiation, mediation, or litigation. We understand the sensitivity and emotional impact of these disputes and strive to provide a supportive and empathetic service throughout the process.

We have offices in LondonRichmondSouthamptonGuildfordLymington and Woking and offer specialist support and expert advice nationwide.

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