28 January 2016
Rise in Wills Being Challenged in Court
After seeing a rise in the number of disputes between family members following the death of a loved one, we decided to commission research to show the importance of writing a valid will and explaining the reasons behind your decisions to your children and family.
To support the research we will be releasing a series of blogs which highlight issues surrounding will writing and family feuds over inheritance.
There has been a marked increase in the number of wills being challenged in court over the past decade.
To be precise, the number of challenges by relatives has increased by 20 per cent in the past 10 years, with the younger generation believing that passing on inheritance is a moral obligation.
There are many reasons why someone would challenge a will, but it seems that “unfair” is a common theme. With the changes in family dynamics, especially the increase in multiple marriages and children from different relationships, the increase in inheritance challenges doesn’t seem that surprising.
What is really interesting is the feeling that leaving something in a will to family is a moral obligation. The figures show that a significant number of 35 to 44-year-olds feel particularly strongly that passing on an inheritance to the next generation was a moral obligation, compared with a significantly smaller number of those over 55.
In court, judges often consider it a moral obligation for parents to leave property or money to their children unless there is a particularly good reason not to. A lack of explanation in the will as to why a child wouldn’t get anything is often a reason for judges to overturn the wishes of the deceased. In the case of Heather Ilott who wasn’t left anything in her mother’s will, the judge awarded her a third of her mother’s estate despite the will stating that all the money should go to animal charities.
It’s increasingly important to write in your will exactly why you are leaving your assets in the way you wish. This will, hopefully, decrease the chances of the will being challenged. If it is challenged, the judge will be able to see the reasoning behind your decisions and should uphold them.
A will is your final wishes laid out for all to see. It’s really important to get it written professionally to make sure that it is legal, clear, and that there are no discrepancies that could throw your decisions into question.
The lawyers at Slater and Gordon have many years’ experience in helping people write their wills and making sure that they are clear and legal. If you need any advice regarding wills, be it writing, contesting, or defending a claim, contact our expert team of lawyers at Slater and Gordon UK. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we will call you.