Do you have to leave money to family?

Should you leave money to someone outside the family?  According to a survey of more than 2,000 Australians by law firm Slater and Gordon, the answer is a fairly resounding “no”, with 63% of the survey respondents stating that a non-relative should not be entitled to a significant inheritance, even if that person visited them regularly, helped with day-to-day tasks and celebrated holidays with them.

Senior estate planning lawyer Rod Cunich said these figures showed how strongly people felt about assets staying in the family.

“I regularly see people who choose to leave their assets to people they have forged a strong relationship with, in the absence of close family members,” Mr Cunich said.

“They are well within their rights to do so, but we must remember that in Australia children have the right to contest a will.

“For this reason, a will-maker should be very clear and concise about how their assets are to be distributed, including outlining the reasons why and the likely consequences.

“It’s all too easy to inadvertently encourage and fuel a dispute between those left behind. Is that the legacy you want to leave?”

According to a 2015 Canstar Blue survey, of approximately 3,000 Australian adults, having an argument with a family member over an inheritance had happened to 11% of those surveyed. 71% of respondents believe an estate should be split equally among siblings, while 14% said a family member had been excluded from an inheritance.

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