TWM Solicitors and its head of Dispute Resolution, Guy Perkins, is featured in an article in the Sunday Express (20 November 2011) about the rise in number of contested Wills.
A WILL TO CHALLENGE
You may be expecting to inherit after the death of a relative or close friend, but you could be in for a nasty shock by discovering they have made no provision for you in their will at all.
When that happens you may be able to contest the will, and if successful, claim your inheritance.
The number of wills being contested is on the increase, a reflection of modern family life becoming more complex, and creating more scope for family rifts over inheritance. For example, following the death of someone in a second marriage, children from their first marriage who lose out to those from the second marriage often feel they have grounds to challenge the will.
And at a time when people are finding it difficult to plan for their retirement, inheritance is often factored in to their finances. When it fails to materialise, they may feel strongly enough to contest the will.
Success, however, depends on the validity of the will, says Guy Perkins, head of Dispute Resolution Department at TWM Solicitors, and a specialist in contentious trusts and probate.
“If you do want to contest a will, you have to remember that the outcome will be decided by a court of law; not a court of morality. There has to be evidence that the will is invalid rather than simply unfair,” he said.A will may be declared invalid because it does not conform to certain formalities.
Mr Perkins explained: “First and foremost the will must be in writing and properly signed. People will try to cut corners, going for a cheaper DIY will that you can buy from the shops and doing it wrong, instead of paying a solicitor or professional will writer to do it right.
“The person making the will must have testamentary capacity, which means that they fully understand what a will is, the extent of their assets, and the sense that they have family and friends who could reasonably expect to receive some benefit. Somebody who is suffering from dementia may lack that testamentary capacity.”
Other grounds to challenge include claims that person making the will was unduly influenced by somebody else who could benefit from it, or that they lacked the appropriate knowledge and approval of the contents of the will.
Mr Perkins explained: “Someone who is blind or has very poor eyesight, for example, may be perfectly capable of instructing someone to write the will but they are unable to read the will that they then have to sign. If there is evidence to suggest the will was never read out to them at that point, there is a question mark over its validity.”
In challenging the validity of a will on behalf of their clients, TMW Solicitors will gather the necessary evidence, including medical notes and statements from the original solicitor or will writer to determine whether the case is worth taking forward.
Mr Perkins added: “Litigation is risky, expensive, and something to be avoided if possible. Where there is a challenge, we advocate mediation or dispute resolution, which with the help of our own team of specialists in this field, has a high rate of success.”
For further information or to make an enquiry, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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