Pay now or pay more later: the cost of not making a will

Year Published: 2014

The recent article ‘Where there’s no will, there’s a hellish legacy’, published in The Times by columnist Jenni Russell, is a great personal example of tragic circumstances that family and friends can experience when their husband / wife / partner fails to think about the impact their death will have on those who are left behind.

A person’s failure to plan for death can have catastrophic consequences, both emotionally and financially, which go far beyond what they may have intended to happen.

In the article, Jenni Russell explains that the remedy for the family left with no protection would be that they are forced to apply to the court for assistance in resolving the financial mess that the partner had left behind.

This is correct. However, it provides added emotional pressure as the deceased’s “second” family will become involved in litigation with the deceased’s first wife, at a time when they would expect to be grieving for his death. Bringing with it unnecessary anger and frustration, which are common sentiments in these situations. Why would they / the deceased want them to do that? The chances are that this was not the deceased’s intentions but is the result of a failure to plan for death.

Asserting a right to the deceased’s estate means that the partner will need to rely on the statutory provisions of The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. In most cases legal advice will be required to navigate around the statutory framework of this act and the civil procedure that is used with it. Whilst most cases of this nature are settled without final hearings the time, cost and added stress are immeasurable to those involved.

The average cost of making a basic will is around £350 and around £1,000 when a trust is involved, which is put into stark contrast when the costs of litigation could be anywhere from £20,000 upwards. If a mediation takes place – in which the parties seek to resolve matters without a final hearing – it is also likely that the costs will be high, in comparison with making a will. A mediator’s fee for example could be around £3,500 plus VAT alone.

Estate planning is essential and given the implication mentioned worth every penny. Losing a loved one is difficult for anyone and very rarely something you are prepared for. However, you can prepare your family for what happens after you die by making a will and seeking estate planning advice to ensure that your family are not left in the same situation. The question to answer here is: would you rather spend a little now and save your family the added emotional pressure, or save the money now and risk your family losing money, time and having to deal with the added stress?

For further information on any litigation issues, please contact our Dispute Resolution team on 0161 475 7676. Alternatively, for further information on writing a will or planning for your estate, please contact  our Wills & Wealth Planning team on 01625 442148.

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