Where there’s a will, there’s often a dispute

Where there’s a will

From wine-fuelled political debates over Christmas lunch to overly competitive games of Monopoly, there are many reasons family members can find themselves at loggerheads with one another. A particularly serious scenario is when a parent passes away and leaves behind an estate that becomes a source of bitter conflict between siblings.

There’s a common misconception that your will represents the incontrovertible ‘final word’ on what is to happen with your estate – ie, your home, possessions, savings and any other assets you may have – when you’re gone. However, this is not necessarily the case, and a 2016 report by government and the University of Queensland found that where wills are contested, the claimants are generally successful – in fact more than three in four times in the case of partners/ex-partners and children.

The table below shows some of the common grounds for why cases over inheritance are brought before a court, and how they can be avoided.

For better or worse, no will is iron-clad – but there are simple measures you can take to help ensure your wishes are executed exactly as intended when you are gone. Aside from being aware of the common scenarios overleaf and what can be done to decrease their chances of arising, it may be best to consider:

  • Engaging the assistance of a professional.
  • Avoiding DIY will kits or at least seeking assistance when completing one.
  • Revisiting your will at least once every few years, especially if your life circumstances have changed (eg, as a result of marriage or divorce).

This information has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs.  Because of this, you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs. Content in partnership with Taxpayers Australia