Avoiding Family Fights Over Assets

17 March 2016

It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. The thought of your family fighting over your assets…but what can you do to avoid it?


The death of a loved one is traumatic enough without the added complication of disagreements over an estate.  Yet it is a very common occurrence. Here are some ways to avoid fighting over your assets.

Is Having a Will Enough?

Unfortunately having a Will alone is often not enough to avoid disagreements and family members becoming disgruntled.

Not every Will is equal. It is a good idea to enlist the help of a professionally qualified expert, preferably one that specialises in Wills and Estates.

The Times They Are A Changin’

Disagreements and disputes over estates are becoming more common, especially where there are defacto relationships and children from past relationships.

Issues often arise between biological children and step-siblings, with feelings of being neglected or overlooked.

However there are ways to minimise or avoid challenges to your wishes and estate.

The most important step is to have a high quality and up-to-date Will and to openly communicate your wishes to your loved ones.

While it can be difficult to have such a conversation, it’s incredibly important that family aren’t surprised to find out what’s in your Will.

Why an Updated Will is Important

There are many reasons why you may need to update your Will, these include marriage, divorce, separation, changes to living arrangements, changes to the value of your estate, new assets and specific instructions you’d like to leave.

If you don’t take into account changes in your circumstances, you’re asking for trouble when it comes to administering your estate.

You should also consider powers of attorney and advance health directives when you update your Will.

How Can I Safeguard my Wishes?

A Wills and Estates expert can provide you with options to best safeguard your specific wishes.

There are some assets and strategies that can help you minimise or avoid the possibility of dispute. These may include:

  • Life insurance as it’s a contract between you and the insurance company.
  • Testamentary trusts that can be set up to distribute wealth in a tax-efficient and protected manner.
  • A Binding Death Benefit Nomination to instruct the Trustee of your superannuation fund who you want to receive your benefit in the event of your death.

A Binding Death Benefit Nomination can be particularly important because superannuation benefits are not considered part of an overall estate and any associated life insurance could be disputed.

If you’re personal circumstances are complex, nominating a beneficiary with your super fund provider may not be enough to ensure your preferred beneficiary receives the benefits you intended. A Binding Death Benefit Nomination can provide this protection.

What next?

You should speak to a qualified Wills and Estate professional who can  help navigate any complexities that exist or could arise.

Contact Gill & Lane Solicitors at Sandgate via, or 3269 8111 for a free, no obligation consultation.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/