Northwood Banks & Co Limited

Couple discussing inheritance

Is Inheritance a Right of Passage or a Privilege?

Inheritance is the natural result when we pass away and a Will determines who our estate passes to when that time comes. 


Inheritance is the natural result when we pass away and a Will determines who our estate passes to when that time comes. One of the questions many couples are asked is whether they want to leave their assets to each other, giving the survivor the ability to use all assets however they wish. However, there are often concerns about threats to the estate and what would happen if care home fees were to eat into the funds that are left.


Despite this, many parents wish to ensure that their family inherits their estate and so, Life Interest Trust Wills are often used by couples who own property or assets together. This ensures that, when one parent dies, their share of the property will be passed down to any children upon the death of the survivor and cannot be redirected.


Sometimes a parent may not wish a child to inherit either because there have been family disagreements or because the parent feels like there are more deserving or needy beneficiaries. This has prompted an increase in contentious matters relating to probate. It is possible for children of any age to make a claim under the Inheritance and Family Provisions Act and, if they were financially dependent on their parents, or find themselves in a state of depravity, then this will bolster their case.


Is It Possible for the Courts to Override my Will?

What often surprises many people who have made a Will is that, even if they decide to leave assets to someone, it is still possible for the court to override their wishes once they have passed away.


However, there is a way to reduce the impact that a claim like this can have and that is to prove that the testators understand their wealth and have considered the circumstances of their children. It is then possible to show that, for whatever reason, they have decided to refrain from leaving their assets to their children.


Lifetime Gifting

With increasing university fees, and a difficult property market, a huge number of parents would prefer to see their children benefit while they are still around so they can see them enjoy it and that is resulting in an increase in lifetime gifting.


In summary, while a vast majority of the Wills that are created will follow tradition, whereby the spouse will inherit before children, it is important for parents to carefully think about the relationships that they have with people and how they could make a claim on their estate, causing problems for those who are genuinely likely to benefit from it.