Law firms are used to carrying out the work involved in the execution of a will, but all too often problems arise from shortcomings in the document itself.
Many people will be aware of the various consequences of dying intestate, with a particular danger that assets will end up somewhere other than where the deceased would have liked them to go. But it is also the case that even when a will has been made, some will set out to contest it.
A new report by consumer magazine Which? has highlighted this danger, noting how common it is for such contests to occur even though the cost of doing so can sometimes be as much as £75,000. It cited one law firm as seeing a 111 per cent rise in contested wills between October 2020 and April this year.
Many will solicitors in Surrey will have seen the same upward trend, with the pandemic being a factor as many Covid victims will not have updated their wills before suddenly being struck down. However, the magazine noted that even before the virus first struck, an increase in contests was apparent.
Common reasons listed for contesting wills include the deceased having a lack of sound mind at the time the will was made, or lack of knowledge of the contents. Others include fraud or deceit, an error made in drafting a will, unfair family exclusion under the 1975 Family and Dependants Act, or failure to sign the will in the presence of two witnesses as required in section 9 of the 1837 Wills Act.
These are among the many common errors made in writing wills that can create an enormous unwanted mess and lead to a costly, acrimonious family dispute.
That’s why it makes sense to get the best legal advice and expertise on board to ensure that when you make a will, there are no clear legal grounds for contesting it. That way, anyone who does want to fight it won’t even get to first base.