Will my Will be disputed?
A recent survey by Direct Line Life Insurance found that almost a quarter (24%) of people are prepared to fight for their inheritance in relation to a loved one’s Estate.
We tell you quite a lot about how important it is to have a Will in place, but even with the best will in the world and with a Will drafted by professionals (rather than a DIY Will) could arguments still be raised?
Unfortunately, as we all know (and probably have experience of!) where there is money involved, arguments are not far behind! In 2018, the HM Courts and Tribunals Service evidence a 6% increase to the number of claims in relation to probate disputes.
So, although there are steps we can take (and we will have a look at those!) to ensure your Will is as water-tight as can be, here are a few of the common reasons that a Will is disputed:
Lack of mental capacity
In order to make a valid Will, the Testator (the person making the Will) must understand what they are doing, the effect that the Will has and the consequences. The Testator must be of sound mind and free from any disorder of the mind that may prevent the exercise of natural mental faculties.
A person may dispute a Will where they believe that the Testator did not have the mental capacity and ability to do so at the time that the Will was made.
There are certain requirements that must be met in order for a Will to be valid and if these are not met then the Will could be disputed.
Undue Influence would occur where someone is forced to sign a Will, or has unreasonable pressure placed upon them to sign a Will, that they do not agree with or would not have made had they had control of the decision.
Although this is the most common dispute when loved ones want to contest a Will, this is the least successful claim as the burden of proof is extremely high and requires the person making the claim to prove that undue influence was present.
Rectification and Construction
This claim may exist where there is an error made in the drafting of the Will or the actual intentions of the Testator were not reflected by the person drafting the Will.
Failure to Provide
You can bring a claim against an Estate if you believe that the deceased should have provided for you within their Will and they have not done so. This would be a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and in order to claim you would need to be:
- a child of the deceased;
- any person who was not a child of the deceased, but was treated as a child of the family by the deceased, within a marriage or civil partnership;
- the spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
- a former spouse or former civil partner of the deceased, that has not subsequently married or formed a new civil partnership;
- a person who had, during the whole of the period of two years ending immediately before the deceased’s death, lived in the same household as if he or she were the husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased; or
- any person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained, either wholly or partly, by the deceased.
Having a Will prepared by a professional cannot eliminate the risk of claims being brought in the future but this does increase your protection and a professionally prepared Will means that it has been prepared by someone outside of the family that has taken the necessary steps to eliminate as many risks as possible and to satisfy themselves that the legal requirements are complied with, that the Testator had capacity and was free from undue influence.
If you would like a FREE chat to discuss putting your Will in place, get in touch on info@TotalLegacyCare.co.uk or 01727 865 121
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