The Stress of Christmas Blamed For Increase In Will Re-Writes For January

Law firm Stephensons Solicitors LLP have reported a 114% increase in inheritance claims and will re-writes.

Blaming the ‘fallout from festive fights’, the firm saw a huge spike of enquiries in January 2019, with double the amount of calls to the firm’s wills and probate team.

Tensions over Christmas are well known to most families, from cooking the Christmas dinner, the choice of gifts, the stress of extra expenses and even board games, are thought to be the cause of families reaching breaking point and choosing to disinherit relatives.  There will also be many who have been left lonely over Christmas, who possibly decide to remove those who have shown them no support or affection over the period, from their will.

Jill Rushton, Head of Wills and Probate at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, said:

“Christmas is meant to be a happy time, when you enjoy celebrating with your extended family.

“However, mounting tensions over everything from Brexit to board games, after spending so much time indoors, being over-fed and having one tipple too many, runs the risk of causing serious arguments.

“This is especially the case when there is already a rift, whether it’s between parents and children, or even in a marriage.

“Factor in the pressure of making sure that Christmas goes without a hitch, it can all be a recipe for disaster.

“Blazing rows, from which some relationships might never recover, often spill over into something more serious.

“At this point those who have written a will are often motivated to disinherit troublesome heirs.”

However, Jill advised:

“It’s not as straightforward as simply changing a beneficiary’s name.

“Recent cases have shown that a will can be challenged and overruled in the courts if it’s believed to be unreasonable or purely spiteful.

“It’s important to have legitimate reasons for disinheriting someone and for those views to be expressed clearly in a ‘letter of reasons’, which should accompany your will.

“This requires careful drafting and consideration.

“I would also advise informing heirs that you are planning to disinherit them, especially if they are family members.

“This will probably be difficult and emotional but means that beneficiaries can’t claim it was a surprise and they might be less likely to challenge it.

“One way to avoid a legal dispute is to set up a trust instead of a will. Through this you will be able to specify inheritors after you die, and it can’t be challenged in the same way as a will.”

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