Disputed Will: Top Tips to Avoid Inheritance Woes

Posted on: 27 July 2016

The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult things a family will have to go through.  Disputes over inheritance can add even more stress and sorrow to this already challenging period, hindering the natural grieving process and potentially causing long lasting damage to the family unit. However, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of a dispute over your assets after death. 

The main causes of will disputes are

  • Differences of opinion over what the deceased would have wanted
  • Claims that assets have been unfairly divided 
  • Problems with the distribution and division of items of sentimental value such as photos and correspondence
  • Differences of opinion over the maintenance or use of large assets such as housing 
  • Unfair or unethical behaviour on the part of the executor 


What lies behind many of these problems is confusion about the desires of the deceased. This is often a result of unclear wording in a will; it is very common for wills to lack detail on the exact way in which assets are to be divided or to give reasons why. A good way around this is for the contents of the will to be communicated as early as possible after it has been drawn up. A letter to the executor detailing the reasons behind the choices you have made is a very good idea. 

Avoid surprises when making a will and if you are dividing your assets or leaving money in a way that could potentially be contentious prepare your legatees as early as possible. Have meetings with the individuals concerned in which you can explain your wishes to prevent any misunderstandings about what you would have wanted after your death. 


Another area of issue is the date and scope of the will. When writing your will, ensure that you have covered every area of your estate and have fully explained any distribution of assets. Make sure it is kept up to date and review it accordingly in the wake of significant family or financial events such as births, deaths, marriages or changes to your financial circumstances. 

When writing a will, imagine you are the executor and try to second guess any potential areas of dispute or confusion. Your will can be as detailed as you want, allowing you to leave careful instructions as to division and distribution of assets after death. The more detailed and considered the document, the less stressful the process will be for your family. In paying close attention to the clarity and scope of your will you can help to maintain the harmony of family life after your passing.