Cases of undue influence on the rise
According to new research, almost a quarter of people surveyed said they would legally contest a will if they disagreed with how assets had been divided.
The research, which was undertaken in association with Direct Line Life Insurance, found that the most common reason for contesting a will is ‘undue influence’. Undue influence arises when someone has been put under unreasonable pressure to sign a will. But while it is a popular objection, the legal complexities associated with it can make undue influence difficult to prove. Nevertheless we have a good track record of resolving undue influence challenges successfully and are always happy to consider new cases.
Wills can be contested on a range of different grounds. One such ground is known as ‘lack of knowledge and approval’. This is where the deceased lacked the necessary knowledge to understand their will and did not approve its content. Another ground for contesting a will is ‘lack of testamentary capacity,’ which is where there is a challenge to the mental fitness of the person who made the will. A will can also be contested on the basis of a clerical error or where the person drafting it failed to ensure that the will reflected the intentions of the testator.
We find that callers to our free helpline are often unaware of all the legal grounds to challenge a will that exist. We therefore take time to go through the various options with potential clients to ascertain what is most likely to succeed.
A Direct Line Life Insurance spokesperson suggested that in order to reduce the scope for disputes arising people may wish to discuss how they plan to distribute their estate with those who might think they will inherit. We would echo this recommendation, but unfortunately the rise in contested will disputes is unlikely to abate and we anticipate that our helpline will continue to grow in popularity.