Second marriages spark disputes over wills

August 30, 2016By BPS Family LawBlog

High divorce rates and the increasing number of people entering into second relationships is leading to more and more disputes over wills and family inheritance.

Conflicts due to second marriages have now become one of the main reasons for families taking legal action following the death of a relative.

A typical problem arises when a man marries for a second time and then leaves all his estate to his second wife and nothing or very little to the children of his first marriage.

Such children may well be adults in their thirties and forties who find it very hard to accept that the wealth their father built up in a long marriage with their mother should suddenly be left to a second wife who may only have been with him for a few years.

It’s a very human problem and the resentment is made worse when they think that their father’s estate will eventually pass to the children of his second wife who may have had very little contact with him at all.

The problem also occurs the other way round with a man leaving most of his wealth to the children of his first marriage and not providing adequately for the needs of his second wife. She may then be prompted to challenge the will.

There are also cases in which a will ignores someone like a son or daughter who expects to inherit but gives no explanation as to why that person has missed out.

Many of these problems could be avoided if people made their intentions clear when drafting their will.

If you want to exclude someone who might otherwise expect to inherit then it’s best to explain why you want to do that. A statement of wishes will be recognised by the courts and avoid any potential disputes.

Relatives will already be under stress because of the bereavement. The last thing they want is to get embroiled in legal action.

There could, however, be strong reasons why someone might need to challenge a will. Disputes can arise because a relative feels the person making the will was subjected to undue influence by someone who wants to benefit unfairly.

This might be particularly relevant if close relatives are overlooked and the estate is left to someone outside the family.

Or it could be that a man remarries in his sixties and so he draws up a new will to include provision for his new wife. Five or six years later he changes the will and decides to leave her a little more.

A few years down the line he updates the will again and leaves even more to the second wife. It may all be perfectly above board but it can lead to his family claiming that his second wife exercised undue influence over him.

Anyone wanting to challenge a will must do so within six months of probate being granted.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues contained in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.
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No more nine to five

August 17, 2016By BPS Family LawBlog

Caroline Swain, Partner, Matrimonial and Family Law comments on the success of BPS Law and why working nine to five just won’t cut it.

At BPS we’re close to celebrating our sixth anniversary and I believe we wouldn’t be in this position if we hadn’t stepped outside usual office hours and started to work around our clients. We’ve enjoyed such a strong period of growth because of our unique commitment to customer service and care.

From the outset we wanted to offer an accessible and dependable service which focused on the family. I believe this has been the key to our success.

Availability

Working around people and being adaptable is what makes our service stand out. Most people don’t work nine to five and at BPS we understand this. Myself and the other partners are always on hand to answer calls outside office hours.

As a working mother with two young children I understand the need for flexibility. I’m around to answer calls in the evening and at weekends. I pride myself in putting clients first and I want to be there to help – whatever the hour.

Consistency

When you’re going through a difficult divorce or family matter, consistency from your lawyer is key. Working with a solicitor who knows the case and has built it up from the start gives clients peace of mind and trust.

I ensure consistency for my clients. During difficult times having someone who has been with you from the start of the case and who will be with you until the final outcome gives clients confidence in our services.

Family

I find that a lot of family departments in legal firms focus on the break-up of couples or families. At BPS we didn’t want to be like that – we pride ourselves in offering a compassionate and caring service.

As a divorce lawyer I’m aware of the strong association family law has with ‘divorce’ and ‘making money out of misery’. I feel that our work shows that isn’t that case – we put the holistic situation for any family first – to us this is what matters most and this is our passion.

If you’re looking for a family lawyer, then you can get in touch with Caroline at [email protected] or by telephone on 0161 926 1430.

Q&A with Sefton Kwasnik

August 11, 2016By BPS Family LawQ&A

Sefton Kwasnik
Partner – Serious Injuries, Medical Profession Defence and Inquest

BPS Family Law Partner Sefton Kwasnik answers some important questions – after a coroner recently made the decision to adjourn an inquest into the death of a Rochdale chef so his family can quiz hospital chiefs about his discharge.

Is the decision by the coroner to adjourn Anthony Griffin’s inquest uncommon Sefton?

Whilst the coroner’s actions here are not common, they show a deep appreciation for genuine family concerns by a very caring coroner, and illustrate that before the conclusion of an inquest it may be possible to persuade the coroner to undertake additional or new investigations and enquiries.

This is a very sad case and no doubt traumatic for the family, as Anthony Griffin died two weeks after being brutally attacked with a wrench. Is there a time limit on when inquests should be heard by?

The target for the completion of inquests is 12 months from death. In this instance, it is already 14 months after the death, as Anthony Griffin died at his girlfriend’s on May 4 last year, so it will be even longer before the final hearing. I do not know the precise the reason for the delay, but delays are not uncommon. In fact, inquest delays is a whole topic in itself. I find that families often prefer a delay if it means a more thorough inquest.

How important do you feel it is for families to be supported by a lawyer leading up to and during an inquest?

Having the right support is essential during the inquest process. Professionally, I have a wealth of experience representing families at inquest and advising upon issues when a sudden (or any) death may rise. It’s about providing complete support and guidance to grieving individuals and families at a very sensitive time in their lives. Family members tell me that they welcome professional support at the inquest hearing for a variety of reasons

Do coroners, in your experience, often act compassionately?

It is my experience that this coroner, Simon Nelson, is very thorough and tries to find out answers for the family. He is very experienced and caring and compassionate.

Why do you think the coroner has made the decision he has on this occasion?

It seems that in this case, the hospital was not represented at court, so out of fairness and thoroughness, the coroner has adjourned the case to obtain their version in relation to the obvious concerns articulated by the partner of the deceased.

Do you believe more families would want other coroners to be as considerate?

My guess is that there are hundreds of families who do not know how to achieve similar investigative responses from coroners in equally worthy causes day in day out throughout the country.

Service

Sefton offers a no obligation initial meeting. He is available to clients or initial enquires between the hours of 7am and 11pm and offers weekend surgery appointments. If you would like further information, please contact Sefton on 0161 834 2623.