Dying without a will only leaves behind a ticking relationship timebomb

While many of us are so busy “seizing the day” or “living for the moment”, it’s easy to see how planning for the end of your life can seem like an unwelcome guest at a party - but in my line of work I’ve seen time and time again the damage it can do.

Telling your family can prevent unwanted feuds later on

Lots of people sit across from me and say that they wish they had spoken to relatives before now about their wishes, and that it was too late. From leaving children out of a will to leaving a small or uneven amounts to families, wills can carry some unexpected surprises.

I see a lot of people in my office asking if it is possible to contest these decisions after someone has passed away. The answer is, yes, you can contest a will, but as always it comes with a few words of warning.

Contesting wills is not the easy option - talking is!

A deed of variation can sometimes be used in a few different circumstances. We wrote about one case last year  where an updated will had not been signed and was therefore declared invalid. We’ve also heard of cases where siblings have felt one of their brothers or sisters have been treated unfairly in a will and would like to overturn the wishes of the deceased to make sure an estate is more equally divided.

However, each case is different and should be approached with caution. It’s much easier, cheaper and involves less heartbreak to have open conversations with family members

Detonating a “relationship time bomb”

Bizarrely, there are also people out there who have a will, but have not told their families and one common reason for that is because the individual writing the will feels guilt about how they are dividing assets. The best thing to do is to talk and prevent detonating that relationship time bomb, as I have seen time and time again how it can tear families apart.

It’s New Year, so why not think about a new plan

Isn’t it time we brought “life” to the “death document”? Use the New Year as a great reason to start afresh. Build bridges and open conversations with families - you might just save a few battles - and heartache - along the way.

If you would like more information about setting up an LPA or drafting a will, contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.


Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking

Email: l.dalgetty@downslaw.co.uk