Posted on 18th February 2007

Time to put a Stop to Family Feuding

Families who fall out over a will often never speak to each other again, warns Anne Elliott, partner at Darlington law firm Latimer Hinks. The sad case of the recent death of Anna Nicole Smith and the in-fighting over her funeral and estate serves to highlight how unsavoury these matters can become. "Most family arguments blow over sooner or later" says Anne "but when there's money involved especially a will it can be enough to break a family apart." A recent survey* showed that inheritance rows are a major cause of family friction. The majority of the arguments were said to be between brothers and sisters, with 42 per cent never speaking to each other again. More than a fifth of all inheritance rows are sparked by claims that an estate has been divided unfairly. Anne said: "No parent wants to see their children at each other's throats. But if you leave a will that isn't clear or can be contested, then you could be creating the conditions for a major family row. Leaving your estate to your loved ones should be a way of looking after them. But a badly written will or worse still no will at all could turn out to be a poisoned chalice." The survey showed that 62 per cent of those questioned had not drawn up a will. Anne continued: "We know, from bitter experience, that too many people have not drawn up an effective will. It's something that easily can be put right. And it's much more cost effective to get a will drawn up properly now, than have those you leave behind fighting each other through the courts for years after youre gone. After all, how many of us want to be remembered as the cause of a family row?" Anne is urging local people to update their wills or have one drawn up for the first time now before the holiday season is upon us and there are better things to be doing! "With the new tax year almost upon us this is an ideal time to also sort out your will. Put it on your 'to do' list, and make sure it's near the top!"