04 May 2023

How to avoid a family feud over inheritance

Michele Wightman Partner & Head of Wills, Estates, Tax & Trusts
Couple ignoring each other

A dispute over a Will, estate, or inheritance can be difficult for families to deal with. 

Books and films often portray families feuding over their inheritance after the death of a loved one and, unfortunately, it is a situation based on reality for many families. 

However, with some planning, open communication, and guidance from a family solicitor, such an outcome can be easily avoided. 

Estate planning

One of the most important things you can do to avoid a family feud upon your death is to plan your estate and make a Will. 

Making a Will ensures your wishes are clear and allows you to make decisions about the distribution of your assets upon death, meaning your property and prized possessions go to who you want them to. 

Without a Will, the state dictates what happens to your estate on your death. The rules in place in this eventuality do not always provide for your loved ones in the way you might expect or want them to. 

Making a Will is therefore vitally important and our expert Will solicitors can help you plan ahead, to ensure your family receive the inheritance you wish them to.

Open communication

Once you’ve made your will, perhaps the next most important step is to ensure that you have open and honest communication with your family and loved ones. 

Rather than making your loved ones wait until your death to find out the contents of your Will, it can often be wise to discuss your wishes with them. 

You can do this in any way that works for you, whether that’s calling a family meeting, speaking to each party individually or even writing a letter. 

You don’t have to disclose exact amounts if you don’t want to, but giving loved ones an idea of how you’re dividing the property, especially if it’s not going to be done evenly, and informing them if you’re leaving any gifts to charities or non-family members is a good way to ensure everyone is clear of your wishes. 

Making sure that you have clearly communicated your wishes and reasoning behind your decisions is likely to negate the risk of harmful disputes and potentially expensive litigation between family members upon your death.

Reviewing your Will regularly 

We have established the importance of having a Will, but it is equally important to review it regularly to ensure that it is up to date and still reflects your wishes. 

It is good practice to review your Will every five to 10 years anyway, but this is especially true when you have a change in circumstances such as marriage, divorce or having children. 

In the same way as if you didn’t have a Will, if you don’t update it when your circumstances change then there is a risk that your estate may not be passed on to who you wish. 


It is fair to say that the vast majority of people would not want their estate to be a source of dispute and contention between loved ones upon their death. Thankfully, such an outcome can be easily avoided by making and updating your Will and communicating clearly with your family. 

Here at Wilkin Chapman, our team of dedicated Will solicitors can help to ensure that your wishes are carried out. We can help you draw up your Will, advise on inheritance tax and asset protection, arrange the signing of your Will, keep it in a safe place, and help you to review it should your circumstances change. 

Need help?

Contact Michele to discuss this further.

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