We all probably would agree that it is the right of every person to distribute their assets, as they choose at any time in their life, and through the legal instrument of a Last Will and Testament, in the event of their death.
However, when a will does not seem fair, when a member of the family feels overlooked, or slighted, there is an impulse to challenge it. The route chosen will probably be the courts. The damage from such an action on the relationships in a family is incalculable.
Challenging a Will in Court
A court is a public forum, and matters heard in the courts are reported in the media. The resultant reputational damage, to both the applicant and the other affected family, may never be healed.
According to legal experts there are numerous reasons why wills are challenged in the Irish courts, but some of the most common are:
- Testamentary challenges — based on lack of capacity, duress or undue influence;
- Spouses claiming their legal right share;
- Section 117 claims by children;
- Legitimate expectation – breach of promise.
“Many inheritance disputes could potentially be avoided if families discussed their testamentary intentions when alive” (Read the full article.) However this is not always possible, or practical.
Family Succession Mediation
It is never too late to call in an experienced family succession mediator. The mediator can hear all parties to the dispute in a respectful atmosphere, and all of the issues can be presented, clarified and reality checked. Options for resolution can be developed; apologies can be facilitated; restitution arranged; costs minimised; relationships repaired (or at least not further damaged by the process).