Talking about inheritance is a difficult subject for most, so its perhaps not surprising that a recent survey revealed that 51% of families in Wales had never discussed the matter.
The survey was carried out by financial planners Brewin Dolphin. It found that with a third of people finding the subject so uncomfortable to talk about, that it took a health scare for many – 47% – to even broach the subject.
Alongside this, a survey carried out by Unbiased.co.uk last year, revealed that 11% of respondents believed that their estate would go to the people that they wanted it to if they died without leaving a will. This is of course not necessarily the case as, without a will, an estate will be divided according to the rules of intestacy.
In 2015, 116 cases about inheritance went to the High Court compared to just 15 in 2005. The number of people contesting their inheritance has clearly risen significantly over the years for a couple of significant reasons: properties have risen in price substantially in recent decades so there is more money in estates to argue over and, alongside this family setups are more complex. Instead of a married couple with 2.4 children, many couples do not marry and, of those that do, almost half are likely to divorce.
It’s interesting to ponder over whether or not enough is being done to educate people about the emotional and financial cost of going to court over such a matter. Court fees rose by 620% two years ago so it’s quite plausible that by the time a person has gone to court to dispute an inheritance, a significant amount of that inheritance will be lost on legal fees.
If you’ve been thinking about the right time of bringing the subject up with your family, then don’t delay. Discuss the future with your family and get professional advice from a solicitor rather than having a home-made will or one with an unregulated will writer.
The awkwardness of broaching the subject of inheritance is far less than the awkwardness of a potential court case for your family.