Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Do Your Family a Favour - Make a Will; It May Not Be Pleasant to Think about What Happens to Your Money and Goods after You Die, but Lawyer JONATHAN GROGAN Argues That It Will Make Life Easier for Your Loved Ones If You Plan Ahead

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Do Your Family a Favour - Make a Will; It May Not Be Pleasant to Think about What Happens to Your Money and Goods after You Die, but Lawyer JONATHAN GROGAN Argues That It Will Make Life Easier for Your Loved Ones If You Plan Ahead

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN GROGAN

WE can all be put off making a will for numerous reasons. It can seem an expensive outlay for something people don't envisage happening to them. It is also viewed as a far more complicated process than it actually is or even too morbid a thought to consider.

Fewer than 50% of people in the UK actually have a will. But failing to make one can expose your estates to costly court claims after you have passed away.

Intestacy rules which come into play on death if there is no will often do not produce a result which is acceptable to the family.

For example, a spouse may not necessarily inherit the whole of the estate, and a cohabitee may not inherit anything at all. In some cases, this leads to expensive action in court, potentially against one's own children.

With an increasing life expectancy and therefore more of an ageing population, conditions like dementia are becoming a lot more commonplace.

While living longer is generally considered to be desirable, when it comes to the making of wills, sadly it has meant that there have been a lot more claims by disappointed beneficiaries.

The reason for this is that there can be an argument for disputing the validity of wills on the basis that the deceased did not have mental capacity to make it, or that they lacked knowledge and approval of it.

In this case, where the person making the will is elderly or has suffered a serious illness, the person drafting the will should follow the golden rule, as it is referred to by the courts in case law.

This means that they should obtain the opinion of a doctor to confirm that the person wanting to make the will has the mental capacity to do so.

However, it's not just mental capacity that comes into question when beneficiaries feel as though they have been wrongly excluded. In England and Wales people have the freedom to give their assets to whoever they choose.

But if they make no financial provision for spouses, civil partners or people who are financially dependent on them, a claim can be made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975.

The number of people doing this has increased greatly in recent times, partly as society grows more litigious and partly because people's assets have grown in value. …

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