The Times recently reported statistics from Private Client Solicitors, showing that the number of disputes over Wills leading to court cases has risen by more than a third since 2017 and more than doubled over the past decade.
Many more cases will never reach the courts as they are resolved by mediation.
Although some cases will be speculative, many will be genuine, for example cases brought by co-habitees (partners, spouses or adult children) who relied on living with the deceased for a home.
It goes without saying that for the families defending the Wills, and also for genuine claimants, the disputes increase stress at a time when they are already mourning the loss of a loved one.
There are several reasons why more Wills are being challenged, including the number of cheap and free Wills written in haste in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the cost-of-living crisis leading to people seeing a loved one’s Will as a way to boost their finances. That said, of course many claims made will be genuine.
Having a professional write your Will cannot completely stop anybody challenging it, but at Lakes Wills we always consider where a potential dispute might arise, and take steps to mitigate that. This could be by writing in your Will that partner or grown-up child has the right to stay in your home under certain conditions (this always requires careful writing), or where someone is excluded (perhaps a child), we specifically exclude them from the Will and obtain evidence that will help discourage or defeat a challenge.
Ensuring that your Will would stand up in the face of a challenge not only gives your wishes the best chance of being implemented, it also reduces the prospect of extra stress and difficulty for your loved ones after your death.