We’re seeing a steep increase in the numbers of people challenging Wills across the UK. This is backed up by a survey claiming that one in four people said they would challenge a Will if they were unhappy with the provisions it made.
Why are more Wills being contested than ever before?
- Firstly, a lot of people are wealthier. This is often due to big rises in property values. This means there is more at stake, so people are motivated to act.
- Secondly, family trees are more complicated than they once were. When someone dies without leaving a Will there are strict rules that dictate what happens to their Estate. For example, a live-in partner could lose their shared home and receive nothing.
- Thirdly, publicity in the media has made more people aware that it is possible to contest a Will.
- Fourthly, people have been living longer. This means that more people have been making Wills when they are in poor health; this can prompt disappointed relatives to challenge a Will. Additionally, more people have died unexpectedly during the recent pandemic, sometimes without updating their wills.
- Finally, writing Wills remains an unregulated area. Wills prepared without an experienced solicitor’s input may contain mistakes or miss out vital steps or information. This makes them easier to challenge. The same is true of DIY and online Wills.
What are the grounds for challenging a Will?
A handful of reasons a Will can be challenged:
- The mental capacity of the person at the time they made the Will is questionable.
- If there is proof that the person was under pressure to write what they did.
- In some circumstances, if no provisions were made for a dependent in need.
- Technical errors in the paperwork.
However, the priority is always testamentary freedom; this means that we can leave what we want to who we want in our Wills. Wills cannot be challenged just because relatives and friends think it is unfair.
How to avoid a Will being challenged
The main way to avoid a Will being challenged is to have it drawn up by a solicitor experienced in family and estate planning. A Will that has been professionally prepared is rarely declared invalid. Additionally, have a solicitor help you write a letter of wishes to support your Will.
How to choose who writes your Will
Choosing a STEP member can be an advantage as they will have been trained to the highest level and have relevant experience. Adam Penn and Charlotte Taylor are STEP Practitioners, the top professional qualification for a Wills, Trusts and Probate solicitor.
A Will writer that is a member of the Society of Will Writers or the Institute of Professional Will Writers, does not have the same expertise as a Solicitor or a STEP-practitioner, who will have the letters TEP after their name. TEP stands for Trust and Estate Practitioner.
If you want help or advice, contact us on 01543 440 308 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org