We specifically asked if non-family members should be entitled to a significant inheritance, if they were heavily involved in the deceased’s life before they died.
The results were pretty clear. The majority of people surveyed – 63 per cent – felt that blood was thicker than water when it came to distributing assets under a will.
Most people believed that despite visiting someone regularly, helping them with day-to-day tasks and celebrating holidays together, assets should stay in the family.
I quite often see many people who don’t have family, or aren’t close to their family members. So they choose to leave their assets to people who they have forged a strong relationship with – and that’s well within their rights.
But we must remember that in Australia children have the right to contest a will, so a will-maker should be very clear and concise about how their assets are to be distributed, why and the likely consequences.
A comprehensive written will, that is up-to-date and well-defined, makes sure that the estate is distributed according to their wishes and can reduce confusion and conflicts within the family.
Critically, will-makers must communicate their intention to those involved. Clear communication is the single most effective means of minimising disputes.