The death of a loved is an extremely difficult time for all involved and this is made worse if there is confusion surrounding the wishes of the deceased. Stubbornness and distrust often arise between those left behind, when the deceased is no longer around to provide guidance or give instructions.

In the Williams’ case, a disagreement has arisen [1] over the interpretation of property classed as ‘clothing’, ‘jewellery’ and ‘memorabilia’. These items are subject to a trust for the benefit of Robin Williams’ children and the Court is being asked to review the wording and to interpret whether this includes specific items that Williams’ widow believes she is entitled to.

There is a clause in Robin Williams’ Will which specifically excludes these items within the home being passed to the widow but she is still challenging the interpretation of this clause!

The first step to minimising any disagreement after your death is to write a Will. Your Will can set out your funeral wishes, as well as the legacies you want to leave to specific people or charities. One key benefit of having a Will is that you appoint your Executors; the people who you trust to carry out your directions and to make the best decisions for your Estate. This means that, if you unsure about what should happen to your property, you can have peace of mind that the best people will be making that decision for you. Without a Will, your estate will pass under the Intestacy Rules and, the person appointed as your legal representative may not be a person you would ordinarily choose.

The second step is to be clear with your instructions so that your Will accurately reflects your wishes. It is vital to ensure that your legal adviser correctly understands the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ about how you wish to leave your Estate. This will ensure that your Will is drafted in a way that minimises ambiguity and reduces the pressure for those administering your Estate. Additionally, your Will can be drafted so that it is flexible and can respond to your changing circumstances – allowing you to provide guidance to your Executors through a Note of Wishes to your Will. This Note of Wishes can be changed as your circumstances evolve and can provide a further explanation as to ‘why’ you have made your decisions.

The final step is to discuss your plans with your Executors and Beneficiaries. Although this is not always possible, in many cases the acrimony surrounding the division of an estate can be alleviated by discussing your decisions in advance with friends and family.

For more information

For more information about how to record your wishes and to ensure that the administration of your estate is as stress-free as possible, please contact Donna Holmes on donna.holmes@anthonycollins.com or call 0121 214 3671.

[1] http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/02/03/uk-people-robinwilliams-idUKKBN0L71HH20150203

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