Posted on 5th March 2014

Wills - Prepare for the Unexpected

Latimer Hinks Solicitors is advising people to guard against inheritance issues particularly where there is a second marriage.

The firm, which is located on Priestgate, highlights the case of the will of the former South African president, Nelson Mandela, who left behind an estate worth £2.5m (R46m). The will excluded his second wife, Winnie, and placed restrictions on the inheritance of some of his surviving children.

Mandela left the majority of his estate in trust, which often solves the problem of providing for a husband or wife from a previous marriage, and ensures that children from an earlier relationship dont miss out. For couples with children from previous relationships, part or all of their estate can be left in trust for the survivor, and then on to their respective children following the survivors death.

Elizabeth Armstrong, partner in the Private Client Department at Latimer Hinks, who manages the firms Trust Department, said: "It is important to think ahead about what will happen to the inheritance for children when there is a second marriage which can complicate things. Taking time to discuss the options and making sure that everyone knows your intentions can help avoid family disputes after you die as well as make for a happier relationship whilst you are alive.

"As details of Mandelas will came to light, it is clear that he had given a lot of thought to the matter by dealing with certain gifts before his death, and by putting money into trust. This can be a simple and effective solution to protect a surviving spouse as well as conserve assets for children of earlier relationships where there is a subsequent marriage.

She added: "If theres a dispute, where a partner or family member was being maintained financially and feels they have not received whats known as reasonable provision in a will, they can bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

"Any claims must generally be made within six months of the date of the grant of probate of the will. If a couple were not married, then to make a claim the surviving partner would have to show they were living together throughout the previous two years.

"Addressing these issues can avoid potential problems which prove not only distressing but expensive if family members decide to consult lawyers. What most families want is to know that they are respecting the deceaseds wishes, but should there be a dispute, it is important to have all relevant documentation and proof at hand.