Inheritance disputes are on the rise. Probate solicitors put that down to the number of blended families, the increase in the value of estates, and the financial pressures families are under with the cost of living crisis.
The Will and estate planning team at Solomons Solicitors can help you with all your estate planning needs including writing a first Will or updating an existing one to reduce the risk of an inheritance dispute.
Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
Can a Will be challenged?
Most people assume a Will can only be challenged if a person made a DIY Will or a frail and vulnerable Will maker was coerced into leaving their estate to a new partner or one child, cutting out other close family members. That isn’t the case under the law. That’s why it is so important that everyone takes specialist legal advice on the potential for their Will to be challenged and to check how they can minimise the risk.
Who can challenge a Will?
A Will can be challenged on capacity grounds (for example, the testator did not understand that the document they signed was a new Will because they were suffering from dementia) or contested because the Will did not make reasonable financial provision for a person who falls within the class of potential claimants under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 ( the 1975 Act).
An estate claim under the 1975 Act can be made by:
- The spouse or civil partner of the deceased
- The former spouse or civil partner of the deceased provided the claimant has not remarried or entered into a civil partnership
- A person who, for the two years before the death, was living with the deceased as if they were a husband and wife
- A child of the deceased (including adult children or a person who was treated as a child of the family by the deceased)
- A person who was being maintained, wholly or partly, by the deceased immediately before the deceased’s death
A claimant can only challenge the Will (or the intestacy provisions if there is no Will) if reasonable and financial provision was not made for the claimant. What’s reasonable depends on the deceased and their estate and the applicant's circumstances. For example, it might be reasonable to give a new partner less if the deceased also left dependant minor children from a previous relationship.
How to avoid a Will being challenged
The best way to avoid a Will being challenged by a 1975 Act claim is to:
- Get your Will prepared by a specialist Will solicitor
- Talk to your Will solicitor about your family circumstances. For example, if you have children from a previous relationship even if you have lost contact with them, or if you have a former spouse and you did not obtain a clean break financial court order when you divorced
- Review your Will if your circumstances change. For example, if you form a new relationship and your partner has young children who live with and are supported by you or if you inherit shares in a family business
Many Will challenges and estate disputes could be avoided by making a Will and then ensuring it remains fit for purpose by reviewing and updating the Will as necessary. For example, if you are in a new relationship but have dependent children from an earlier marriage one option may be to include a flexible life interest trust in the Will giving the trustees the flexibility to meet all claimant’s potential needs.
Speak to our Bournemouth-based Will Solicitors today
Solomons Solicitors can help you with all your Will and estate planning needs making sure you understand your options and you have the legal paperwork you need to provide peace of mind.