The Inheritance TV show highlights real life issues over making a will

The Channel 5 TV series, The Inheritance, has been gripping audiences with its dramatic story of a family at loggerheads over a will. The show features two sisters and a brother who expected to inherit their father’s estate, only to find that he had changed his will without telling them and left everything to his new wife. They were shocked because they didn’t know he had remarried. It is only a drama, of course, but it highlights some of the problems being faced in real life by thousands of people today.

The number of family disputes over wills and inheritance has increased in recent years. It’s partly caused by the increase in the number of people having second marriages and relationships. This has led to more complicated family networks, which can lead to conflict and resentment. For example, second wives may be resented by children from a first marriage. There can also be difficulties when a man has children with different partners.
A typical problem might arise when a man marries for a second time but then leaves most of his wealth to the children of his first marriage. The second wife may feel she hasn’t been adequately provided for and decide to challenge the will. The problem also occurs the other way round with a man leaving all his estate to his second wife and nothing or very little to the children of his first marriage.  
Such children, as in the Inheritance TV show, may well be adults in their thirties and forties and they 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. 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. 
It’s not only men’s wills that lead to disputes. Similar problems can arise involving the wills of women in second relationships. 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 was 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 placed with the will can help to avoid potential disputes. The same applies if you want to leave someone a larger amount than might be expected, such as a carer or a companion.
Millions of people are now involved in second and third relationships and it’s not surprising that there may be complications. However, no one wants to think of their loved ones locked in some needless dispute over money. The best way to avoid such conflict is to make a will and make your intentions clear. It’s then important to check the will every few years to see if it still reflects your current wishes and current circumstances. It can help prevent heartache and trauma for your loved ones in the future.


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