Monday 19 August 2019

Families are urged to 'avoid court at all costs' in will rows

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Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Court should be "avoided at all costs" in family disputes over wills, a new association of probate lawyers has advised.

The Probate Bar Association of Ireland urged parties in such disputes to use mediation, which it said was more cost-effective and less confrontational.

The association's chairman, Vinóg Faughnan SC, also said costly and difficult legal disputes over wills could be avoided if parents sat down with their children and discussed what they intended to do with their estates.

"From our experience, we believe if this is done then litigation can be avoided," he said.

Speaking after the launch of the new body in Dublin yesterday, Mr Faughnan said court "should be avoided at all costs" in a probate dispute.

"We are deeply disappointed when cases actually proceed to a hearing because one side wins and the other loses and anything said in the witness box cannot be unsaid and is likely to lead to a further deterioration in the relationship between families," he said.

This antipathy could then continue between future generations, he said.

Mr Faughnan said the common denominator in a lot of disputes was lack of communication, either between parents and their children before the parents die or between siblings after their parents passed away.

The barrister also said there was a misconception among some members of the public and some practitioners that win, lose or draw, you get your legal costs.

He said the association's experience was that this was not the case and that there needed to be a greater awareness of this.

The new association was launched by the chairperson of the Law Reform Commission, former Supreme Court judge Ms Justice Mary Laffoy.

Among its aims are to provide continuing education for barristers, to promote awareness among the public about the importance of making a will, to promote awareness about how to avoid disputes and to promote law reform where it is required.

Irish Independent

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