Christmas is a time for family, friends and loved ones but families are never straightforward…
It is not uncommon for Clients to prepare Wills and have close family members who they wish to exclude from their Will. Sometimes there are family members you may want to benefit more than others from the Will, for example, by leaving unequal amounts to children, grandchildren or siblings.
Recent challenges being made to Wills by family members have been receiving media coverage;
v Heather Ilott’s late mother Melita Jackson left the majority of her estate to three animal charities. Mrs Ilott challenged the Will and was awarded a six-figure payout. The charities are now challenging the payout to Mrs Ilott.
v Iain Hayward recently disputed his father’s Will after he was left a harp and the rest of the estate was left to his sister and his father’s grandchildren. Mr Hayward argued that his father was not capable of making a Will at the time he signed the Will. His father had predicted that the Will would be challenged by Mr Hayward and had seen his doctor who confirmed he had capacity to make a Will at that time. Mr Hayward’s challenge to the Will was unsuccessful as a Judge this week ruled that his father had capacity at the time the Will was made.
You can prepare a Declaration under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to give the reasons why you have excluded a particular person from your Will. Although the Declaration cannot prevent a challenge to your Will, it shows clear intention that you do not want that particular person to benefit from the Will itself and makes it harder for your Will to be challenged.