In February of this year, it was reported that a quarter of British adults are prepared to challenge a relative’s will in court. This is according to a survey of 2000 people, which was commissioned by the life insurance company, Direct Line.
8159 caveats were entered in contested probate cases in 2017, rising by 8% in 2018, and the survey found that Londoners were the most likely to contest a parent’s will.
It is thought that the increase is a result of the growing intricacies and complications of modern living, along with continually rising property prices.
The caveats are being registered to dispute the legality of a will, to challenge whether or not the person who died was of sound mind at the time of making the will, and whether or not the person who applied for a grant of probate was eligible to do so.
A parallel survey of family law specialists identified ‘undue influence’ as the most common grounds for contesting a will. However, this was recognised as the least likely challenge to be successful, due to the fact that it is often extremely difficult to establish proof.
According to the research, the second most likely reason for challenging a will is a lack of knowledge and approval on the part of the person making the will. It was also found to be the most successful grounds for contesting a will.
When probate is disputed, this can represent an extremely challenging time for family and friends. Unexpectedly receiving less than expected from a will, or even nothing at all inevitably leads to a strong emotional reaction. People increasingly rely on a share of an inheritance for buying property or for their retirement. For this reason, probate disputes can split families, and taint or even ruin memories of a loved one.
Wherever possibly, families should clearly communicate their wishes with their family to reduce the opportunity for future confusion.
The news is a reminder of the importance of using the services of a professional – both when it comes to writing a will, and when applying for a grant of probate.
Over recent years, wills have been commoditised. They have been simplified into processes of asking questions by online facilities and unqualified people. But wills are about more than just money; they are about people and their relationships with each other.
Many people save a few pounds when making a will at a potential cost of thousands or tens of thousands of pounds after their death.
At A M Davies, we value people over profits. With completely transparent fees, we offer professional, practical advice on wills and probate. Our sensitive, caring approach ensures we are able to offer all of our clients comfort and reassurance. We would be pleased to discuss your enquiry.