The number of disputed wills has trebled over the last few years. With people’s estates generally worth more now, mainly due to the relative increase in property values, and with a rising divorce rate causing more complex family structures, it is certainly becoming more financially worthwhile to contest a will in court.
If you want to try to ensure your will is not contested, here are some simple tips which may help:-
- Think carefully before preparing your own will. It is always best to seek professional advice, to ensure there are no errors which could invalidate the will, and to check the Inheritance Tax (IHT) position. Please contact Martin Cooper for details of our fees for individual and “mirror” wills.
- Work out the value of your estate. Remember this may include property, jewellery, heirlooms and other items. Decide who you wish the beneficiaries to be. If you wish to leave differing amounts of money, or leave people out of your will entirely, then you can write what is called an Inheritance Act Statement or Declaration alongside your will. This statement, typically written at the same time as your will, would set out your reasoning for writing your will as you have. It is a legally recognised document which would be taken into account if the will were contested, although it is not legally binding on the court.
- It may also be beneficial to tell family members and others mentioned in the will of your wishes and explain your reasoning. Bear in mind, the cost of any court action is met by the estate, thereby reducing the amount available to the beneficiaries.
- Think about who you wish to appoint as executors. It is best to ask whether they are prepared to undertake this, and also if they understand exactly what is involved, as it is a responsible and demanding role.