I recently listened to a BBC Radio 4 programme on estrangement, and the effect this can have on families. Family estrangement is incredibly common, and most of us probably know (or are part of) families where a relative has become estranged for one reason or another.
Hugh James administers a large number of deceased persons’ estates, and we regularly see cases involving estrangements; for example, where children have been cut out of wills, or arguments between family members have led to contact coming to an end.
Sadly, the death of a loved one can bring these issues to the fore, particularly where there is perceived to be unfairness in the way the deceased has chosen to leave their estate in their will. People making wills have freedom of choice about how to leave their estates, and may have what they consider to be good reasons for leaving out certain family members. This can, however, give rise to difficult situations for those left behind.
Whilst it is often very difficult to heal family rifts, if you do wish to try and build bridges with estranged relatives following the death of a loved one, there are several things you could consider.
We often speak to family members who are upset because they have not been made aware of details of the funeral. You may wish to consider communicating details of the funeral to all relatives, so that everyone has the opportunity to attend. If you no longer have contact details for some relatives, consider using social media or an advertisement in the local press.