Will Power: A rise in the number of claims against Wills

PUBLISHED: 11:51 30 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:04 20 February 2013

Will Power: A rise in the number of claims against Wills

Will Power: A rise in the number of claims against Wills

With an ageing population, more complicated family arrangements, an increase in cases of negligent Will writing and a difficult economic climate, there has been a rise in the number of claims against Wills

With an ageing population, more complicated family arrangements, an increase in cases of negligent Will writing and a difficult economic climate, there has been a rise in the number of claims against Wills


Certain instances may cause a Will to fail entirely. If the person making the Will did not have mental capacity, did not understand or approve the contents, or was subject to outside influence, then it will be invalid.


The effect of this could lead to the Will being revoked and the assets distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules an arbitrary piece of legislation which fixes the way assets are passed and may lead to them passing to a distant relative! There have been times when we have all felt the urge to cut a close relative out of our Will. However, care has to be taken before cutting a spouse, dependent or child out of a Will as such persons have the legal right to bring claims for financial provision against the estate if they have not been provided for in the Will.


In most circumstances, however, claims against an estate can be avoided if the following tips, among others, are followed:



1 Ensuring the testator has mental capacity to complete a Will (however, it is important to note that even if the testator has a medical condition affecting brain function, it does not necessarily mean they cannot complete a Will).
2 Considering all dependents and making adequate provision for them in the Will.
3 If a spouse, dependent or child is cut out of a Will making sure a letter of explanation accompanies the Will.
This may help from an emotional as well as legal perspective.
4 Not completing a Will without understanding each clause. There are many complicated trust provisions
that can be purchased in pre-packaged Wills, however the effect of these on the estate must be understood together with any legal jargon.
5 Reviewing a Will every five years or after a big life event (ie marriage, separation, birth of a child or the purchase of a house). A marriage will automatically revoke a Will and a Will not revoked after a separation may result in the spouse inheriting the estate. When preparing a Will it is therefore important to recognise that it is one of the most lasting statements you will ever make which deals with all of your assets accumulated over your lifetime.


The repercussions in failing to ensure that a Will has been drafted properly and at the right time may potentially have a big impact on family left behind both in terms of financial costs and delays, but also additional and unnecessary distress. Litigation is inherently expensive and any legal disputes following your death may seriously reduce the estate and leave a sour legacy.


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