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Do you want to see your children in a bitter dispute after your death?

Of course it goes as read that no parent wants this. However, unfortunately, disputes can and do arise and this is illustrated by a case reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post in the estate of Lena Hirst.

The background
Mrs Hirst died aged 75 in December 2005, suffering from Alzheimers Disease.

Mrs Hirst’s Will had originally stated that her estate should be divided equally between her two adult sons, Harry and Barry. However, after Mrs Hirst’s death it became apparent that her Will had been changed in 2002, leaving Barry with nothing and Harry with the majority of the estate.

Barry issued Court proceedings claiming that Mrs Hirst was suffering senile dementia and was coerced into changing her Will. Harry is bringing a counter-claim, alleging that Barry removed £150,000.00 from the estate for himself from a safety deposit box.

One imagines that Mrs Hirst would not want to have seen her two sons spending the best part of five and a half years following her death embroiled in bitter Court proceedings to establish their entitlement to her estate.

The outcome
The case was set for a four day Trial in April this year but was settled half way through proceedings.

What we can learn from this…It is of course possible to apply to Court to resolve disputes such as this but such action can be emotionally stressful, time consuming, protracted and inevitably expensive. On top of this, the outcome would not necessary reflect the wishes of the deceased.

By far the best way to avoid such difficulties arising after death is by ensuring that professional advice is obtained and a Will drafted that accurately reflects your wishes. It is also important to keep your Will under review to ensure that it remains up to date and deals with your property in the way you wish to give you control over the division of your assets and minimises the risk of Court battles for your relatives.

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