We read from time to time about court cases where a family member contests the content of a will because they do not benefit under it. The Inheritance (provision for family and dependants) Act 1975 allows a claim by someone who is eligible under the Act if the will fails to make reasonable financial provision for them. This obviously goes against the principle that I can leave my assets to whoever I choose! Such a claim can delay the administration of probate and can be very upsetting for all involved.
So how can you avoid an attack if you decide to exclude a family member from your will? Perhaps because they are estranged, or because you feel that others have a greater need or are more deserving? It may help if you draft a statement of reasons at the same time as you create your will, setting out in detail the reasons behind your decisions. You should sign this and leave it with your will. The solicitor who drafts your will should also draft this statement to be sure that any relevant case law on the Inheritance Act is taken into account. For example a recent case emphasised the need to set out the positive reasons why the particular beneficiaries were chosen as well as the negative reasons why the family member was excluded.
So when you draft your will, think carefully about who you are leaving your assets to and consider preparing a thoughtful, objective statement of the reasons for your choice of beneficiaries to keep with your will.