Over the past few years there has been a dramatic increase in Will disputes, and indeed the amount spent on legal costs in attempting to resolve the claims.
In 2015 the High court saw 116 cases of children challenging their parents’ Estate, compared to 104 the previous year. A range of factors are likely to have had an impact on this increase, such as an ageing population, varied family situations and an increase in property prices.
The most concerning issue is the number of people who do not currently have a Will. It is astounding that more than two-thirds of all adults do not have a Will in place. Those without a Will are leaving both themselves and their family in a vulnerable position. Although not something we like to think about, death is inevitable and can happen at any time.
The most common reason for people not having a Will is the mistaken belief that their property will automatically pass to those they care about most whether or not they have a Will. That is not, however, the case. If you do not make a Will then the law will determine who administers your Estate and the ‘Rules of Intestacy’ govern who receives all of your money, property and possessions.
The Rules of Intestacy do not always reflect an individual’s wishes. Take for example the situation where a couple have separated, although not formally divorced. If one of them were to die, the position would be the same as if the couple were still together, not likely to be what they would have wanted.
Disputes often arise when no Will has been made and family members/loved ones often wish they had persuaded the deceased to make a Will whist they were alive. At Michelmores, the Disputed Wills & Trusts team help loved ones who have survived the deceased and find themselves in a distressed position or even sometimes in the situation where they are left homeless and penniless.