A poll of British people has revealed that millions would contest a loved one’s will if they were dissatisfied with how assets had been awarded.
The poll by Direct Line Life Insurance found that over 12.6 million British people would challenge a will in court if the division of assets was deemed inappropriate, even if the deceased’s will was current and clear.
This finding is particularly interesting when we consider that around half do not write a will at all. Many people do not write a will as they presume that their assets will automatically go to their spouse, partner or children by default.
However, complications arise when multiple marriages, half-siblings, blended families and unmarried couples who live together. Some people fail to update their ill and sometimes a main benefactor may already have passed away themselves.
There were over 8,100 applications to contest wills in 2017 which was a 6% increase over 12 months. These are called ‘grants of probate’ and cost £20 to file which means British people spent £160,000 in one year on raising issues with wills.
According to a family solicitors, in the UK the most common reason for contesting a will is that the deceased was under ‘undue influence’, i.e. forced or pressured to sign a will which did not necessarily represent their true wishes. These petitions are not often successful as the challenger needs to provide a high level of proof.
Wills can also be challenged on the grounds of ‘testamentary capacity’ which is when the legal and mental ability of a person to alter or make their will is in doubt. There are also ‘rectification and construction’ claims which is the claim that a clerical error was made when the will was drafted, and it did not reflect the deceased’s wishes.
Business manager at Direct Line life insurance, Jane Morgan, says: ‘While people are increasingly contesting wills, everyone has the right to choose how they’d like to distribute their assets, even if it seems unusual or excludes even the closest family members. People can be surprised and hurt by the contents of a will, so people may wish to discuss with beneficiaries and those that might think they would inherit, how they plan to distribute their assets.’
Unfortunately, the issue of money and trust is often problematic before death with a recent study finding that only half of adults would trust a family member to manage their finances if they could no longer do it themselves. A study by a legal service also found that over 33% don’t have a loved one we would trust to take care of our affairs as we don’t believe they can manage their own money.
It’s therefore even more surprising to learn that nearly 80% of those aged over 45 do not have a lasting power of attorney (LPA). This legal document identifies the people they would prefer to manage their affairs when they are no longer able to. Over 41 million people believe that they do not need an LPA as their loved ones would be automatically able to make decisions on their behalf if they could not.
If you have would like to discuss an inheritance issue or you have been affected by this story, then it is in your best interest to get in contact with us at The Inheritance Experts where we can discuss your issue or requirement.