Family disputes, Wills, death and dying: thoughts from Kim, Counsellor in Wrexham

Following on from my appearance on BBC Radio Wales on 5th Aug 2015, I wanted to share some of my thoughts around writing a Will for yourself or if you are involved with an elderly relatives or friend, to minimize disputes with others.

I have noticed that the Will writing process is usually very private and not really discussed with others who may be impacted by it.  For example, an elderly widow may have one of her 4 children as her main carer.  This main carer may oversee and help mum with the details of her Will.  Over a period of time one of the other children may begin to become more involved and be interested in what the Will contains.  The two children in this scenario may well have different perspectives on the best way for mum to divide her assets and this could lead to an argument or worse.

Blended families also bring unique circumstances: “Mary” has a step-brother and step-sister from her dad’s second wife.  She doesn’t see her step-family often, but they get on OK. However, “Mary”  doesn’t want her  step-brother or step-sister to inherit anything from her Will.  Mary is worried that they could contest her Will in the event of her death.

Many families have secrets and hidden resentments. Within a family we each play a role (you could be the “good child”, the “naughty” one, the scapegoat etc), there are also feelings and thoughts which affect what we do (“I do all this for dad and I get nothing to show for it”, “I feel guilty I didn’t spend enough time with “Paul”).  In all this we each have our perspective on what’s going on and why (we know this as even when watching the same film or reading the same book, we can each pick out different insights and meanings).  Families in many ways are a mine field! It’s not really a surprise therefore that falling out is not uncommon when it comes to Wills.  However, as I highlighted on BBC Radio Wales, with transparent decision-making and communication many misunderstandings could be avoided.  Together with the concept of “picking your battles” -you can’t fight them all, so pick the most important ones and let go of the others.  Help is available through family counselling, relationship counsellors and even mediators.

Leave a Comment