The number of wills challenged in the High Court hit an all-time high last year.
The Ministry of Justice has released figures which show that claimants brought 188 will challenges to court last year. This is a 47% increase on the 128 claims made in 2018.
Reasons for rise in number of will claims
Lawyers have attributed the rise in the number of cases to decades of house price growth which has given people a greater incentive to challenge a will they believe to be unjust. If the deceased owned their own home, this can significantly increase the size of the estate they leave. This makes the cost of bringing a claim worth it in comparison to the chance of a court awarding a share or a larger portion of an estate to the claimant.
Media coverage of recent high-profile cases may also have raised awareness about challenging a will. These include a case from 2017 in which three animal charities won a high court battle against the daughter of the deceased who left them her £500,000 estate and the more recent case where two stepsisters battled over which parent died first to determine who got what.
More complex family structures may also be a factor. If the deceased had children with more than one partner or if stepchildren do not receive the same as biological children a competing dynamic can force the case to court.
The cost of challenging an inheritance
Inheritance battles can be costly. In December 2019, a High Court judge expressed surprise at the £74,000 costs of a one-day hearing. Mr justice Francis said: ‘If this were a commercial deal rather than a family row, they would have not spent this amount of money on this litigation because it would not be commercially sensible.”
When it comes to challenging a will, emotions are always in play. Before you make this decision, get advice from someone who is not involved emotionally. A probate solicitor can advise you if you have a potential claim and give you an estimate as to costs.
For further information on challenging a will in court, contact Debbie on 01704 532890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org