BBC2 series 'Can't take it with you' highlights avoiding contested Wills
- AuthorAndrew Leakey
The BBC series ‘Can’t take it with you’ concluded on Friday with its 6th episode, showing on BBC2.
The series as a whole has dealt with some of the emotional dilemmas people face when writing a Will and helps them with the often neglected task of working out how to divide their estate among their loved ones.
In particular, the series focussed on the more unusual family arrangements, such as there being children from previous relationships, estranged relatives, and disabled relatives.
An astonishing 70 per cent of the population die without ever making a Will, and those that do make Wills, sometimes do not make them properly, taking into account those dependant on them.
Dying without a legally valid Will, or having an incorrect one, can often lead to loved ones receiving nothing and can even tear a family apart.
The BBC series featured Sir Gerry Robinson, one of the country's leading businessmen, and solicitor Sue Medder, who help families make decisions in relation to their Wills, and bring them together to discuss who gets what and why.
This is something that very rarely happens, and as a solicitor dealing with contested Will and inheritance disputes, I have found that in a lot of cases the contents of a person’s Will comes as a complete surprise to the family.
The last episode focussed on two families both having to deal with the considerations that need to be taken into account when one child of the family is disabled. This is because this child may need more provision than their other siblings in the future.
One of the couples featured, Patsy and Andy, were unable to agree on what to leave their daughter, Rebecca. Andy thought she should get more than her brothers, because she is severely disabled and will need lifelong care. However, Patsy couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the other two children with less than what Rebecca would get, and wanted to divide everything three ways. After advice from the solicitor, Andy and Patsy agreed to leave their estate with 50% to Rebecca, and 25% to each of the other children.
In practice, I have come across many cases where people have not been given this advice, and then after their death, people such as Rebecca have been left without sufficient provision from their parents estate.
It is possible to bring a claim against the estate for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, if an agreement cannot be reached. However, claims are costly and are no substitute for someone preparing a well-drafted Will, after obtaining advice from a solicitor.
For those people who think they may be able to contest an estate, the types of challenges are extensive. If you consider that you may me able to bring a claim, then contact our specialist litigation team who deal with inheritance disputes on 01942 777777. If you are of limited financial means, you may even be entitled to Legal Aid, and we can advise you of this quickly over the phone.
By contesting Wills solicitor, Heather Korwin-Szymanowska