Earlier today I appeared on BBC Radio Tees to discuss the contentious issue of wills and inheritance with presenter Mike Parr.
The interview was prompted by a rather shocking article in yesterday’s Telegraph. Headlined The Great Baby Boomer Inheritance Grab, journalist Joel Shute highlighted the ever growing number of people disputing the wills of deceased relatives and even being hauled into court themselves on charges of trying to defraud elderly members of their family.
Before I came on air, this atmosphere of entitlement and expectation was vividly highlighted in a series of vox pops with passers-by in Middlesbrough. Almost all said they expected to receive an inheritance of some kind.
As family solicitors, we often encounter concerns that certain relatives have had an undue influence over elderly people who want to make a will or who have already done so. Such claims may become the basis of legal objections if other members of the family are unhappy with the provision made for them from a particular estate – perhaps they expected to receive more, perhaps they didn’t receive anything at all.
Sometimes people plot to exclude other relatives from a will but an experienced family lawyer should be able to detect such manoeuvrings and ensure that the will maker’s true intentions are respected.
Another very common scenario is people who die without leaving a will of any kind, a situation which fuel unhappy disputes that drag on for years. Wills and inheritance often cause epic family fall-outs.
When people get older they often lose confidence and fear becomes a big problem. Knowing whether to look after yourself or to leave money to others can become a difficult decision, especially if someone is trying to influence the situation.
We family lawyers see every aspect of human nature in our field!
People may give away some money before they die to try and avoid tax with the expectation that they will be looked after when the time comes. On the face of it, this seems like a sensible decision but what happens if they subsequently fall out with the person they gave money to? A miserable tangle can be the result.
At the end of the day, the money belongs to the person making the will and they can do whatever they wish with it. Old people have particular needs and surely the only sensible approach is that fine and difficult to achieve balance between providing for your family and looking after yourself. Care home costs can be phenomenal.
Shortly after the interview, I sent BBC Radio Tees the following tweet:
@BBCTees Thanks for a good interview. My view is you should never struggle. It’s your money, you spend it. Families inherit what’s left.
Listen to the Radio Tees interview here. My interview begins at 39:20.