I have been working as a Solicitor for more than 30 years. With every day that passes I begin to feel (and possibly look) like Victor Meldrew. I find myself saying “I don’t believe it”.
Sadly, I deal with Inheritance Disputes – and even more sadly see that families sometimes fall out about the estate of a family member who has died. What is all the more tragic is that many of these disputes would never arise if people made a formal Will to set out their wishes.
I recently represented the long-term partner of a very successful businessman. They had been together for over 20 years. He knew that he was dying of an incurable disease. He had advice from a Solicitor that he should make a Will – but he refused to sign one. He died without a Will so none of his estate went to his long-term partner – but went to the children of his former wife. To say that disagreement erupted between family members was an understatement. All of this could have been avoided if he had made a carefully considered Will – making provision for the partner he loved.
Another successful businessman was in partnership with his brother. They both also received professional advice that they should make Wills – and that they should be updated from time to time. Although they both made a Will to ensure the continuation of their business they failed to update their Wills when their business was changed from a Limited company to a partnership – so the provisions in the Will about company shares became invalid when one brother died unexpectedly.
The story that I get from so many clients is that the loved one “never thought that they would die” – as I said at the outset of this article – “I just don’t believe it”. When I give advice that people should make a Will I do this not from self interest – but from a genuine perspective that I hate to see families fall out at such a sad time.