CLAIMS AGAINST YOUR ESTATE
When you die – what happens to your estate namely your assets and savings?
Have you left a Will – which should have your wishes clearly set out so your Executors and Trustees can deal with your Estate and follow those wishes.
If there is no Will in place – there could be problems – as even if a member of your family acts correctly – they have to follow the intestacy laws, which may cause disruption between your family.
But even in either situation there could be a “mole” coming out of the woodwork to make a claim against your Estate – we have seen it in the past years but these claims are now increasing. It might be possible to come to an agreement with any such person but in the last year claims going to court were substantially higher than in previous years. If someone claims the legal costs and court fees may be higher but any claimant will look at the increase in the value of your assets especially your property and consider it is worth the expense.
These claims are between members of the deceased’s family but could be from old partners who allege they had been promised payments out of the estate or just greed, which often prompts these claims. It may be a claim through the Dependency Act 1975 where someone alleges they were financially reliant on the deceased and should have received a share of their Estate.
We advise our clients when they are worried if they split up and have a new relationship which may effect their children not just personally but where in future someone else might have a claim against the estate when they want their assets to pass to their children; or if they fall out with some member of their family and do not wish to leave them anything from their estate.
What should you do to protect your estate and hopefully ensure on death there are no problems namely:-
- Have a Will in place – we have been doing this for clients over many years – and will advise them as to potential future problems and how to make sure their wishes are clear and effective. We will prepare any necessary documentation including letter of wishes so evidence is available even after death as to why or whatever the client wants to cover in their Will etc.,
- Advise clients to discuss with family possible problem areas so they are aware of what may happen in future and what they want to put in their Will. It could save any spurious claims in future.
- It may be possible for a client to take action during their lifetime to deal with their wishes – perhaps giving a share of property to their children or assignment of a policy or investment using a trust.
- Then consider setting up Asset Protection Trusts – where in some situations it may be an effective way of protection and avoiding any future claims- plus any claim during your life.
There is never any certainty as to what will happen in the future – so its always best to review your situation and Will etc., every few years.
If you need any further help or advice, please get in touch.