The increasing complexity of modern family life has led to rises in the number of will disputes involving illegitimate children, making it crucial that such documents are worded correctly.
While it might seem simpler to have a catch-all clause leaving certain assets to the testator’s children, this means that any individual who can prove they are the deceased’s offspring will have a claim on the estate – including any illegitimate children that the family were previously unaware of.
Actually naming the children to benefit from the estate in the will means that other siblings are very unlikely to be able to claim a share, and helps avoid bitter disputes occurring.
Similarly, second marriages can be another source of contention. While enabling the new spouse to live in the joint property until their death – when it then passes to the testator’s children – can be seen as providing security, problems can arise if the spouse has no means of supporting themselves during this time.
Therefore, it is essential that individuals seek expert advice to avoid the pitfalls of a poorly worded will.
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