Why Do Wills Get Challenged?

What are the reasons to contest a Will in the UK?

There are generally two bases for contesting a Will;

  1. Either the Will itself is invalid, or
  2. The Will fails to make ‘reasonable financial provision’ for a family member or someone who was financially maintained before their death.

There are several reasons a Will might be invalid. Some examples include:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity
  • Lack of valid execution
  • Lack of knowledge and approval
  • Undue Influence
  • Fraud or Forgery

What are the statistics when it comes to challenging a Will?

  • It has been said that 3 in 4 people are likely to experience a Will, inheritance, or probate dispute in their lifetime.
  • Inheritance disputes among siblings are the most common form of dispute.
  • You’re more likely to experience a dispute in relation to your father’s Will than any other relation.
  • The average age of the deceased, whose Will was disputed, is 58.7 years.
  • 1 in 4 who disputed their inheritance said it was because the deceased was coerced.
  • 47% of survey respondents were set to inherit between £50k and £1 million.
  • The average amount recovered from disputes is around £190k.
  • Almost 40% of people die with debts.
  • 1 in 3 disputes initiated by non-family claimants were said to be ‘colleagues’ of the deceased.
  • Men are 11% more likely to be involved in an inheritance dispute than women.
  • Men are likely to inherit more than women in a Will.

Case Study’s

A recent case is the case of the late Dawn Webb who, after divorcing her husband in 2015, made a Will splitting her £305,000 estate between their three sons. However, she remarried in February 2019 and passed away seven months later. By remarrying, her earlier Will became invalid, and she became what is referred to as intestate – i.e. dying without a valid Will. Under UK Intestacy legislation, her second husband was entitled to the first £270,000 of her estate and 50% of the excess. The other 50% was to be shared between the three sons resulting in each receiving about £9,000 each, compared to the £100,000 they were expecting. They are now involved in a legal dispute with their stepfather.

In another dispute relating to the execution of a Will, whilst the Will appeared to be signed, dated, and witnessed, evidence from the witnesses crucially showed that neither witness actually witnessed the deceased’s signature at the time of signing the Will. The Court concluded the Will had been incorrectly executed under the Wills Act 1837, and an earlier Will was held to apply by the Court.

Extreme care, guidance and experience is necessary in compiling and signing Wills.

For further information on preparing new Wills or revising or reviewing existing Wills, please contact the Team @ Maplebrook Services, based in Kissonerga, at [email protected] or call 26600780.

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