A person’s will is likely to be one of the most important documents they will make in their life. Having no will, or a poorly drafted will, can have serious financial and other consequences for those who are left behind. However, even with so much online information and do-it-yourself will kits available, we seem to still be getting it wrong. In fact statistics from the Supreme Court point to an explosion in disputed wills in recent years, with a 59 % rise in litigation between 2005 and 2013. So why is this?
It has been argued that this is due to the breakdown in family relationships and social changes that have seen the emergence of more blended families. Some cite the fact that grandparents and relatives are now more likely than ever to have the full-time care of children, and that more people are raising children who aren’t biologically related to them.
There is certainly evidence to suggest that the increase in remarriage and second or third families correlates with the growth in the number of family provision claims. However, there has also been an increase in the size of estates in line with increasing property values. People are also holding more wealth in superannuation, which may on death be paid into the estate but will often be paid directly to dependants. These are just some of the factors that have increased the complexity of estate planning and getting one’s affairs in order properly.
There are ways people can ensure their wishes are respected and fulfilled. The best way to avoid problems is to give some thought to what they own, and who needs to be provided for, and make sure that they revise their will if circumstances change.