Common Causes of Will and Trust Disputes and How to Prevent Them

The vast majority of probate cases will be completed without a hitch. Usually, when the wishes of the deceased are clear, they’re unlikely to be contested. On occasions, however, there may be disputes over wills for a number of reasons. Here are some of the most common causes of will and family trust disputes, along with some advice as to how they can be prevented or managed.


Appoint an Experienced Solicitor

While this may seem an obvious point, there are many who don’t file their wills through the appropriate channels. One of the most common causes of disputes over wills occurs when the legal representative doesn’t have experience in this important area.


Issues that arise can include:


  • Incorrect or ambiguous wording
  • Failure to obtain witnesses
  • Documents not signed
  • Failure to adhere to the wishes of the testator.


Of course, such errors can commonly arise, but ought to be identified and amended before documents are officially signed off and validated. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, especially when an unqualified legal representative is appointed. The likelihood is that an unqualified legal representative will be uninsured to cover any of the aforementioned mistakes, which is concerning because the consequences can be catastrophic.


With all this in mind, it’s imperative that you seek out an experienced and qualified solicitor. That’s where we come in. Here at McGinley Solicitors LLP, we’ve been dealing with wills and trusts since we were first founded all the way back in 1988. We realise that the bereavement period is a distressing time for all parties, and our sole aim is to make sure that the estate is distributed strictly in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.


Our 35 years of experience means that we know how even the tiniest disputes over wills can arise, but also know how to effectively nip these issues in the bud. Using our services, you can be satisfied that the will document accurately reflects the wishes of the testator and that there will be no justifiable grounds for the will to be disputed based on our actions.


To get in touch, please call us on 1800 998 969 or fill in the online form and we will get back to you.


Consider Carefully the Mental Capacity When Making a Will

A testator should be of sound mind when making a will, and the point is clarified in the document wording. This is an important factor and, if there is any element of doubt, it could give grounds for family trust disputes.


The question centres around testamentary capacity, which is a term that establishes whether or not an individual has the requisite mental capability to make a will. In cases where doubt exists, the will could be contested at a later stage.


An elderly person making a will may, therefore, want to consider obtaining a certificate of mental capacity from a medical professional. It can also be a good idea to ask that person to be one of your witnesses.


Be Aware of Inheritance Claim Acts

Your legal representative should be fully aware of Irish law relating to wills and probate. Much of the legislation relating to inheritance is laid down in the Succession Act of 1965.


There are some strict rules relating to inheritance claims, especially when a person has died without leaving a will in place. Your solicitor must be qualified and fully conversant with any laws, otherwise, the will may be open to dispute.


Ensure Cohesive Executors

At least one executor must be appointed when making a will. Ideally, there should be multiple executors in place in case one passes away, but it’s a good idea to keep the numbers down to two. Too many executors could lead to potential conflicts of interest and will disputes later on.


Executors should work together when the time comes for the estate to be distributed: this is what we mean by ‘cohesive’. Look to appoint executors you can trust and ensure they don’t have any personal conflicts between themselves.


Ensure That Your Family are Aware of Your Will

It’s a good idea to discuss the contents of your will with your family. Nobody wants to think about their passing, but this is a commonsense approach that can help to avoid any potential disputes over wills later on.


Not only should you tell your closest family members that a will has been made, but they should also be aware of where the documents are located and which solicitor has been appointed. This will all help with avoiding family trust disputes at a later stage.


Review Will and Trust Arrangements Regularly

A will can be made at any time, but there are certain life events that make leaving a legacy essential. When we get married or register a civil partnership, it’s vital to get that paperwork sorted if we intend to leave everything to our partner.


Similarly, when children come along and we want to include them in estate planning, it’s a good time to make a will with a view to avoiding any future family trust disputes.


Certain other life events will not be as happy, but they are equally important in terms of revising a will. In the case of divorce or the death of a beneficiary, it’s recommended that a will is updated to reflect the change in circumstances and wishes.


Outside of these milestones, there’s no set period for updating wills, but it’s generally recommended that the documents are checked every five years or so, to ensure that they remain in accordance with your wishes.


Ensure the Proper Destruction of Old Wills

If an old will comes to light, which has since been superseded, it’s still possible for its wishes to be adhered to. In a worst-case scenario, when your family hasn’t been informed of the whereabouts of your current will, they may uncover an outdated document instead of the current paperwork.


Issues with outdated wills can also relate back to the appointment of an unqualified legal representative. Your solicitor should always establish that your new documents override any previous wishes.


For the best possible advice on avoiding probate issues and family trust disputes, please get in touch with McGinley Solicitors LLP at 1800 998 969.

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