Disputed Wills and Contentious Probate

7th August 2023

Kuits’ contentious probate team recently met a client whose stepmother had died. She was disgruntled because when her father had died he had left everything to his second wife outright. She in turn had left everything to her children cutting our client out of assets that had mostly originated from her father. This is not an unusual case for our team who regularly deal with clients in this situation and these cases are increasing year on year.

Why are cases of disputed inheritance rising?
  1. Estates are worth considerably more than they would have been in years gone by, often because of rapid rises in property values. There is, therefore, more at stake financially than ever before which incentivises challenges over the provisions in a Will and the distribution of Estate assets.


  1. There has been a shift away from traditional nuclear families, with higher rates of divorce, remarriages, and cohabitation. This gives rise to more complicated personal relationships and greater potential for beneficiaries to be disappointed or in dispute with Executors/Trustees.


  1. An aging population and higher numbers of individuals suffering from dementia has led to an increase in challenges to the validity of a Will on the grounds that the Deceased did not have ‘testamentary capacity’ at the time of executing the Will. See here.


  1. The increasing uptake of ‘do-it-yourself’ Wills which are often unregulated and usually inappropriate for complicated circumstances. Without direct professional involvement in the preparation of a Will, there is an increased potential for mistakes which might prove fatal to its validity or lead to challenges following death.
How do you make sure your assets are distributed as you wish?

 With a heightened risk of claims against estates, those considering making a Will, more than ever, will want to ensure that their Wills are structured so that their assets ultimately end up with their loved ones. A good legal adviser will seek to properly understand the dynamics of any relationships you have and the interests that others might have in your estate so that appropriate protections can be put in place to ensure that your wishes are followed. If you have any concerns about potential claims against your Estate on death under an existing Will or you want to make a Will to ensure your wishes are followed, our Private Client team would be happy to assist you.

Our Contentious Probate team may also be able to help you if you are disappointed at what has been left for you in a Will, or if you have been left out entirely, and want advice on the prospects of success and strategy to pursue a claim against an Estate; or if you are an Executor/Trustee facing a claim.

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