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How having a Will written by a lawyer can prevent probate disputes

Posted
Wills, Trusts and Probate

It’s important to have a Will in place to ensure your financial wishes will be honoured after you die. Earlier this year, we wrote a blog which explained what will happen if you die without a Will (known as ‘dying intestate’). In short, the law will decide who inherits your estate which delays when your beneficiaries will get their inheritance, if they even benefit, as the law may decide your estate is to be distributed in an entirely different way to how you would have liked.

However, even if you have a Will in place, if it’s a ‘DIY Will’ that you’ve written yourself, it may not be valid and the law may still have to decide who your estate goes to. Whilst it may seem easier and cheaper to write your own Will, there are many mistakes that can be made which would cause issues when the Will is read after you pass, when you cannot correct them. The case may have to be taken to the High Court in order to resolve it which is a costly affair.

Back in 2005, only 15 cases were brought to the High Court, but almost 15 years later, around 370 are expected to be heard in the High Court in 2019. A sharp rise from 227 in 2018.

It’s been reported that it’s getting more and more likely that family members deal with the distribution of assets themselves, rather than seeking advice from a professional in the field. Properties are worth more than ever before and family structures are becoming more complex, with the rise of cohabiting couples and families that include stepchildren.  

But once the person has passed, the executor may need to apply for a 'grant of probate'. Without a Will, a 'grant of letters of administration' will need to be applied for by the person entitled under the intestacy rules. This is known as the probate process which also causes issues if an incorrect ‘DIY Will’ is in place.

Common mistakes that are made in a ‘DIY Will’ are:
• Typos and using the wrong wording
• Not having your Will properly signed, dated, and witnessed
• Not specifying stepchildren or adopted children when referring to your children in your Will
• Including property abroad that you own and foreign investments or bank accounts, as your DIY Will may not be recognised in another country
• Making confusing or contradicting statements
• Not correctly disinheriting someone so they may, in fact, benefit from your estate after you die
• Incorrectly dealing with Inheritance Tax

Our Private Client team can help you through probate and inheritance concerns and pride themselves on their track record of settling disputes to the benefit of their clients. Along with the Litigation team, they are well-appointed to represent clients at all stages of court proceedings, if they arise.

Find out more about how our team can help, or contact Erica Pearce-Howard on 01293 596925 or by email erica.pearce-howard@stevensdrake.com or Sue Tipper on 01293 596908 or by email sue.tipper@stevensdrake.com.

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