According to new research, there has been a six per cent rise in the number of people challenging probate applications to the court – in other words, more of us are willing (no pun intended) to challenge their loved one’s final wishes.
The study by Direct Line Life Insurance claimed more than 12.6m people would dispute the division of a family member’s estate if they thought it was unfair.
Margaret Rowe, a Partner in our Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning team, looks at how you can avoid any unnecessary family feuding:
This research made for interesting reading, particularly in light of the record number of inheritance disputes that are reaching the High Court. Two of the reasons likely to be causing relatives to pursue claims are the rising number of blended families and house prices.
Wills can be challenged for a number of reasons – for instance, if someone feels they have not been adequately provided for; if they believe undue influence was used when drawing up the document or that the person wasn’t of sound mind when it was drafted.
The main way to prevent your last will and testament coming under such scrutiny is to commission a solicitor to write it.
With an independent solicitor, you can have a full and frank conversation about why and how you are dividing your assets or making the gifts you want to make. Solicitors have to keep records of your discussions as evidence and this will reduce the risk of allegations that you were coerced into making these decisions.
A solicitor will also be able to advise you on how best to implement your wishes in the will and any other steps you can take to ensure your wishes are carried out, such as setting up a trust.
If you wish to disinherit a child or other close dependent, or weight your will in favour of one person over others, a solicitor can advise you how to go about this.
Although someone could still legally challenge a will if they feel they’ve been wrongfully excluded, having a solicitor involved in making your will should go a long way to making sure your wishes are carried out.
She advises on all aspects of wills and probate work and elderly client matters. As a key member of the Firm's Disputed Probate Team she also advises on the administration of estates and trusts, advice in connection with breach of trust or breach of duty, application of the intestacy rules and obtaining grants of probate and letters of administration. Margaret is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and also a member of Solicitors For the Elderly (SFE).
Margaret can be contacted on the details below.