Posted on 18.9.15 by Michael Smoult
It’s no secret that the majority of adults in the UK have not made a Will. Putting off making a Will is a dangerous game to play and can play havoc with your family should you die intestate. Our Act On It campaign is urging people to make their Will now whilst they are fit, healthy and have all their mental capabilities.
It is essential to know and understand that when you do get round to making one, not just any old scribble and signature on a piece of paper will do. There have been many examples in the media lately on the dangers of making your own DIY Will, as reported here in The Telegraph – How a cheap Will could leave your family in ruins – and from our own blog.
We have even seen the case of Heather Ilott who successfully overturned her mother’s Will in Court, of which she had been written out of. This was a landmark moment in the realm of Will challenges, which could spell spark the beginning of more challenges to Wills, especially those which have been made without the help of a legal professional.
Will disputes rapidly escalating
According to official Ministry of Justice figures, the High Court saw almost a doubling of probate disputes from 97 in 2013 to a massive 178 in 2014. The number of cases that actually reach High Court is miniscule, in comparison to the vast majority of cases which are settled out of court. This is suggestive of a much larger rise in disputes with these figures likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Most of these cases relate back to family feuds, especially those with complicated structures, where step-children and second spouses are involved.
All this begs the question: why are people still making cheap DIY wills when you’re considering something so important as your family and their future?
It has been widely reported that around 40% or less of adults in the UK have a Will. A recent survey has shown that of this 40%, a quarter have made their Will without any professional legal help at all.
A Will is perhaps one of the most important legal documents you can make; to write one without the correct professional help opens the document up to being disputed and contested much more easily. The thought of saving a few pounds and making a DIY Will is a huge false economy in that it will cost much more in the future to sort out the potential turmoil.
The grounds to contest a Will
A Will can be rendered invalid by relying on one of more of the following grounds:
- the Will is forged or fraudulent
- the testator was subject to undue influence
- the Will has not been executed correctly
- the testator lacked the necessary mental capacity
- the testator lacked knowledge or approval of the contents of their Will
The Heather Ilott case has significantly raised the profile of disputes, which could see even more Wills being contested in 2015. Ms Ilott disputed the case on the basis that “reasonable provision” had not been made for her, despite her mother making her wishes very clear in her document.
Use a Professional
The only way to ensure your Will is as water-tight as possible is to make it with a legal professional, who knows what they are doing. Even better, is to use a STEP qualified solicitor who have been officially approved by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.
Get in touch with our expert Wills, Trusts and Probate department today to receive first class advice and a dedicated service. Our solicitors are STEP qualified and will speak to you face-to-face to ensure every last wish is provided for. For a no-obligation quote, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and Act On It today!