Why Has the Number of Contentious Probate Claims Increased?

More and more people are protesting Wills. The Independent reported back in January 2013, that the number of cases declaring whole Wills as invalid had almost doubled. Moreover, London’s High Court had seen a 700% rise in the number of actions challenging provisions made in Wills.

There seem to be a number of reasons for this. First of all, it is believed it could be a consequence of more complex family structures. These are caused by the increase in re-marriages, cohabitation and also step family members, as well as families living further apart. This means that the channel of communication between family members may not be as clear, resulting in unresolved resentments and arguments, fires which are refuelled after the loss of a family member. More obviously, with intricate family trees and distance pushing families apart, it can be difficult to build solid relationships with each other. This in turn means that a Will may seem incomprehensible to some but obvious to others.

Economic Climate

Another reason for the increase in contesting Wills could be because of our economic climate. On the one hand, over the last few decades, there has been a bigger spread of wealth. Many people have assets to protect and die with a sizeable estate. This means that when someone passes away, it feels there is something worth fighting for. This bigger spread of wealth also means that there may be more access to solicitors, to actually make a claim. Relatives and dependants are left feeling disappointed with what they have inherited and this can also create issues between family members.

Homemade Wills

Many homemade Wills are disputed. They often contain ambiguity or a lack of clarity. These Wills frequently lead to disputes and to contentious probate, as well as a lot of distress for the deceased’s family.

Finally, more stories about contested probate and Will disputes are in the press and media, increasing awareness that if someone believes they were not treated fairly in a Will then they may be able to bring a claim.

To conclude, there is evidence to suggest that the number of contentious probate cases is rising. There are many reasons for this, what we have discussed today is by no means exhaustive. It can feel like a very overwhelming and daunting process to have to deal with, but we can help.

If you have any questions regarding contentious probate, making your Will, or disputing a will and would like to book an appointment with us, please do not hesitate to contact us at enquire@bbc-law.co.uk  or if you would prefer, telephone us on 01273 604123.

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