Need to contest a DIY Will? You are not alone
The significant rise in inheritance disputes between family members has been further fuelled by the increasing number of people opting to make DIY Wills.
The number of these sorts of disputes ending up in the court room has increased by 62 per cent over two years with the growing popularity of DIY Will writing kits considered to be partly to blame for the surge in cases.
Other factors include the complexity of modern family structures, with the increase of second and third marriages often involving children from each. Escalating property prices means estates are often larger too and therefore seen as worth contesting by claimants.
Mistakes and errors
The appeal of DIY Wills is their price - they are available online for as little as £6.99 - but it's easy to get things wrong when filling in the forms with potentially huge and costly repercussions.
Common errors include making mistakes which lead to assets being distributed to the wrong people, creating a conflict of interest by appointing a family member who is also a beneficiary to administer the estate and not getting the Will witnessed, signed and dated correctly.
Today, as a result, more and more people are seeking to challenge or contest a Will. In a recent survey, 12.6 million people said they would be prepared to go to court to do so.
What to do if you think you have a claim
If you are concerned about a DIY Will - and think you have a reason to make a claim - it is important to take legal advice as soon as possible for a number of key reasons:
- In relation to some grounds for contesting a Will, there is a time limit of six months to make a claim from the date the Grant of Probate was obtained;
- You may have several claims to make but some may have a higher chance of success than others or may be easier to prove. A solicitor can help you identify these;
- You may need to take preventative legal action to maximise your chances of success. For example, you may need a solicitor to enter a 'caveat' for you. This prevents the assets of the estate being distributed until the dispute is settled.
Most Will disputes are settled before they get to court, after the parties involved agree to engage in a process of negotiation or mediation. This means that both the emotional and financial costs of going to court can be avoided.
Mediation is actively encouraged by the courts and Wards Solicitors offers a specialist mediation service.
Every month across the UK, more than 13,500 people use the internet to search for terms relating to this area of the law. With so many making enquiries about this subject, we have prepared three specific legal guides to help:
Any Will can end up being challenged or contested if someone thinks they have not been left what they were promised. However, a Will that has been properly and professionally drawn up by a solicitor is likely to be far easier to defend.
Click here to see what else we have written recently about taking specialist legal advice when making or revising a Will.
Wards Solicitors has a dedicated and award winning Probate Disputes team specialising in these sorts of claims. It is led by Partner Elizabeth Fry, recommended in the independent Legal 500 guide for 2019, as "providing a very strong combination of legal analysis and fact management which works towards the best possible outcome for the client."