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10 Tips to Avoid Challenges to Your Will

View profile for Guy Birtwistle
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The number of will related disputes are on the rise as more and more people choose to challenge the wills of their relatives.

One of the key considerations for any estate plan is to ensure your wishes have been made clear, and that your beneficiaries understand and accept the decisions you’ve taken.

Although there is no fail safe way to stop challenges to your will, below I’ve highlighted 10 tips that might help to avoid them:

  1. Start planning sooner rather than later - It’s important your will is written whilst you still have the mental capacity to do so. If family members doubt whether you knew what you were doing, they’re more likely to question your final wishes.

  2. Use a qualified lawyer - An experienced lawyer will know the challenges and potential pitfalls, using one will ensure your will is appropriately prepared.

  3. A small gift is better than no gift - Rather than leaving a family member out of your will entirely, leaving a small gift can help to avoid a challenge and show that they have at least been considered.

  4. Avoid routine - Avoid making regular payments to a family member you wish to leave out of your will, they could argue that this is evidence of them being ‘maintained’ and that this should be considered after your death.

  5. Write a letter of wishes - A letter of wishes, left alongside your will, can be used as a way of adding context to the decisions made within your will.

  6. Talk to the family - Letting those family members that may be effected know exactly what you have decided and the reasons why, will keep everyone informed and eliminate any surprises when your will is read.

  7. Contribute to Charity - When intending to leave money to a charity, it can be beneficial to make donations during your lifetime. This demonstrates your desire to support the charity and can help to quash any potential challenges.

  8. ‘No contest’ - A ‘no contest’ clause can be inserted in your will as a deterrent to potential challengers. It is a provision that states any beneficiary who challenges your will and loses, will forfeit any inheritance they were otherwise set to receive.

  9. Consider a Discretionary Trust - With a Discretionary Trust , you choose a trustee(s) who will be responsible for distributing your estate to the named beneficiaries as they consider appropriate. A letter of wishes can be used alongside the discretionary trust to give your trustee(s) direction – although this is not binding.

  10. Review regularly - You should review your will at least once a year. Establishing a pattern of regularly considering your wishes as families and financial situations evolve, will show you have carefully thought out your estate plan.

To discuss your estate planning requirements or any of the points raised in this blog; e-mail