In an earlier article, Coronavirus: Rise in contested probate? Dispute Resolution Solicitor Damian Pitts provided an overview highlighting thoughts that many lawyers expected that the number of contested probate cases would rise following the coronavirus pandemic. Evidence continues to support the reality that more bereaved families than ever are contesting wills.
There seem to be several reasons behind this, including an increase in homemade wills, an ageing society (which has led to greater arguments about capacity, undue influence and whether the will maker understood and approved the contents of their Will), an increase in assets value and a worsening economy.
‘There is no denying we have seen a substantial increase in probate claims in recent years’ comments Contested Probate Solicitor; Emerald Priscott. ‘Many lawyers expect the number of probate claims will continue to rise over the next few years, given the impact of the pandemic. The sad reality of the situation is many people have become ill with the disease or have sadly passed away. Those who have passed away may not have made a will setting out how they wish their estate to be distributed. Alternatively, if they did make a will, it could be a DIY will where there may have been difficulties complying with the signing or witnessing requirements. Many people were also turning to witness their wills via video conferencing software. Whilst these practices may not automatically mean a will is invalid; it is likely to mean an increase in will disputes in the future.’
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the economy causing business closures, job losses and pay cuts meaning more people have money worries. For those people, any inheritance could make a massive difference to their family situations. In these cases, it is not surprising that families are enquiring whether they have claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, where it is alleged that reasonable financial provision has not been made.
Our Wills and Probate Litigation Solicitors can help you in disputing or contesting a Will. Our advice is to contact us sooner rather than later. The earlier a dispute can be addressed; the quicker and easier it is to diffuse. If you would like to discuss defending or contesting a will, please call Emerald on 01603 598000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The information provided in this article is designed to provide helpful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.