When a loved one dies without a Will it is often left to the immediate family to start the estate administration, sort out the funeral and secure the valuables of the person who has died. If there are tensions within the family and siblings don’t get on, this can cause problems as decisions need to be made quickly and it may feel like one person is taking over without bearing in mind the wishes of all the family. This can particularly be true when decisions are made about the funeral arrangements, where the ashes should be scattered or which wording should go on a headstone. Similarly when sorting out the contents and personal effects, family members may fight over who keeps which items especially if something has a sentimental value.
How can you help avoid family fallouts during the estate administration process?
One way of lessening the stresses and breakdown in relationships after a death is to ensure that your Will is up to date and includes directions about who deals with what and how your assets should be left. It is also possible to include your funeral wishes in your Will.
Unless you have a Will there is a priority in law regarding who deals with these matters, this is known as the rules of intestacy and may mean that a family member you haven’t spoken to in years or don’t trust is left to deal with your estate. By appointing executors and leaving specific gifts in your Will these matters can be dealt with by the person or people you trust to deal with your affairs as you would wish.
It may not necessarily stop your relatives fighting at the end of the day, but by leaving clear instructions about how your affairs should be dealt with it can make it easier for the family to accept your wishes and manage the administration of your estate in a timely and more cost effective manner.
For advice on creating a Will or dealing with the estate of someone who has died, please contact Helen Gowin in our Estate Administration & Probate team on 01260 282351.