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How to stop someone contesting your will

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Written by: Emma Lunn
15/10/2021
October is Free Wills Month during which various organisations offer free will writing in conjunction with participating solicitors.

According to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) a record number of inheritance disputes took place at the High Court in 2019, with 188 cases brought by individuals who claimed they were entitled to a share of, or a larger portion of, an estate. This figure was up from 128 in 2018, 145 in 2017 and the previous record 158 in 2016.

The figure is likely to rise further due to the number of ‘lockdown wills’ put in place virtually during the pandemic.

Katie Alsop, partner in the contentious probate team at Wright Hassall, said: “In the UK it is reported that over half of adults don’t have a will in place, which is concerning to say the least.

“Throughout your life you work hard to build up your savings and buy nice things, as well as look after precious family heirlooms, so it’s important that when you’re no longer here, these items are given to the people or causes that you care about the most”.

“You’re bound to trust your loved ones to carry out your wishes, but often grief can cause rash decisions, meaning the conversation you’ve had with your family regarding what should happen with your possessions may no longer be abided by.”

Alsop said people should follow the correct procedure when creating a will and seek guidance from a solicitor. Not only can the solicitor talk you through each step, he or she will also make sure all of your wishes are accounted for and recordings will take place, so it will be more difficult for anyone to contest your will later down the line.

She added: “Discussing what you’d like to happen to your assets and possessions once you’re no longer here is always going to be a difficult conversation, but it’s important you do so, so that your relatives and friends are aware of your wishes and so that you can be rest assured that you have a will in place that has been created by a legal expert and will minimise the chances of animosity amongst your family once you’re gone”.

Top tips to write a will

Seek expert advice

It’s crucial that when creating a will, you seek help from a legal expert who has experience in this field. Creating a homemade will isn’t as reliable as one created by a solicitor, which means it is more likely to be contested successfully.

Be clear and informative

When creating a will with your solicitor, make sure you explain in detail what your wishes are and the reasons behind them. Whether it’s over the phone or in person, it’s more than likely your solicitor will record your wishes, which is why it’s important to be as clear and precise as possible.

Talk to your loved ones

Although it will be a difficult conversation to have, it’s important you discuss your wishes with your loved ones so that they’re aware of what to expect. Approaching the subject as early as possible will also prevent issues from developing further down the line.

Review your will regularly

It’s always best to create a will as soon as possible, but on the flip side, this means you need to be checking your wishes regularly and make sure you update your will where needed. There may come a time where you want to add or remove people from your will, so have a read through it as often as you can.

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