Have you been left out of a Will? What to do next
The number of people disputing a loved one's Will is rising fast with three in four people likely to experience an inheritance battle in their lifetime, according to a new survey.
The current cost of living crisis is set to exacerbate the problem still further with hard-pressed families, who feel they haven't been left what they deserve, prepared to take issue over much smaller amounts of money.
Taking specialist legal advice at an early stage is emerging as crucial in the success of any inheritance claim, says the survey by IBB Law. It shows 70% of people decide to use a lawyer with 60% choosing to put their faith in specialist contentious probate lawyers, like Wards Solicitors.
Why are more people challenging Wills?
It's clear that this is an upwards trend - Inheritance Act claims jumped by 72% in 2021.
Another study by Direct Line Insurance supports this - it found one in four people would challenge a Will if they were unhappy with the way assets had been distributed.
The reasons for this are many and varied - second marriages, blended families and children from more than one relationship all play a part.
In addition, the relentless rise of property prices - plus the pressure of soaring inflation - means estates are getting larger and are therefore seen by claimants as worth contesting.
Who is most likely to challenge a Will?
Interestingly, inheritance disputes among siblings are the most common form of dispute, the survey shows. In addition:
- Most disputes are over a father's Will;
- One in three disputes initiated by a non-family member are by a colleague of the deceased (33%) or a neighbour (22%);
- Men are 11% more likely to be involved in an inheritance dispute than women.
How are inheritance claims solved?
The aim of specialist contentious probate lawyers like Wards Solicitors is always to try to settle any case out of court to minimise stress, upset and costs.
The survey confirms the benefit of this course of action - 36% of disputes were settled via mediation and 21% through negotiation.
It also showed that solicitors are particularly good at accurately estimating how much a claimant will receive if successful.
How do you claim under the Inheritance Act?
If you are unhappy with a Will you may be able to contest it under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
This allows eligible participants to bring a claim against the estate of a deceased person where 'reasonable financial provision' has not been made for them under the terms of the Will or if there was no Will.
We have prepared three legal guides to help you:
Get in touch
If you would like to contest or defend a Will, the help of a specialist lawyer is vital as every case needs to be looked at on an individual basis. Time limits also apply.
For help and advice, please contact Wards Solicitors' Contentious Trusts and Probate Team.
Our lawyers are members of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) and the Law Society's Probate Panel. All demand a high level of expertise and up to date knowledge from their members.
Wards Solicitors' team is praised by the Legal 500 Guide for 2022 for its broad contentious trusts and probate practice with a particular emphasis on Inheritance Act and Court of Protection matters.
Head of the team, Elizabeth Fry, is highlighted as a key lawyer specialising in high value and multi-jurisdictional matters.