What would it take for you to challenge a Will?
15 April 2019 by Amy Burton
According to a survey undertaken by Direct Line Life Insurance, one in four people will look to challenge the Will of a family member or loved one if they feel that their share of the inheritance is unfair.
Regional differences were rather stark, with those living in Southampton, Norwich and London being statistically more likely to initiate action. Whilst those living in Sheffield are seemingly more content with whatever they have been left.
It was noted that possible reasons for the 6% increase in caveats lodged is due to rises in house values; meaning there is more at stake when dividing your wealth. Lodging a caveat is the procedure you should follow to bring a claim against an estate; as it stops anyone from receiving the Grant of Probate. We also live in a society where families with 2.1 children are becoming increasingly uncommon. Families can often be fractured and complicated, which can lead to animosity from the outset of the probate procedure.
Challenging a Will
There are numerous grounds on which a Will can be contested, with the most common reason cited being ‘undue influence’. The burden of this argument is rather high on the person bringing the claim. This is because they have to prove that the individual was being coerced or pressured into preparing the Will; in the manner in which it had been drafted.
The most successful ground however, according to this survey, was ‘lack of knowledge and approval’. This means the individual did not have complete and proper knowledge about the matters they were deciding; and further lacked the ability to be able to approve such instructions.
Bringing such a claim can be costly, as generally they have to be privately funded; although the monetary reward can potentially outweigh the risk factor. Increasingly, a lot of people are relying on their inheritance in order to get on the property ladder themselves; they therefore see it as an opportunity to better themselves financially.
Preventing someone from Challenging a Will
It is virtually impossible to prevent someone bringing a claim against your estate. There are however ways in which we can mitigate this risk; to cover such an event one solution is the preparation of letters to be stored alongside your Will. Jane Morgan from Direct Line Life Insurance commented “people can be surprised and hurt by the contents of a will, so people may wish to discuss with beneficiaries and those that might think they would inherit, how they plan to distribute their assets.”
We can discuss all of these aspects with you when you come and discuss the preparation of Will. It is important that you raise any such potential problems with us.
If you would like to discuss the preparation of a Will in further detail, or wish to discuss ways in which you can minimise the risk of a family member disputing your Will, then please contact our Wills, Life Planning Probate department; or call us on 01206 700113, or email us at [email protected].
Likewise, if you’re considering contesting the Will of someone who has died, we can provide you with advice.