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Simon Steele-Williams - Partner, Coles Miller

Defending A Will? Get Expert Legal Advice7th Sep 2016

Alarm bells should ring if a loved one suddenly changes their will shortly before their death – particularly if it seems at odds with what they wanted previously.Contested wills solicitor Simon Steele-Williams, a Partner at Coles Miller, Bournemouth

The High Court recently ruled in favour of two men who took legal action after their brother died leaving 95 per cent of his £1.1 million estate to his council-appointed carer.

Judge David Cooke ruled that the testator (will maker) did not understand what he was doing when he changed his will.

Instead the true will was an earlier one in which the deceased left 60 per cent of his estate to various charities.

Wills – even those that appear correct in the first instance – can be challenged for a variety of reasons so expert advice is essential. Getting it wrong can be very costly given the sums involved.

Remember…this case turned on whether the testator knew what he was doing when he made his new will.

This is why it’s important to see a solicitor rather than opting for a DIY will. The lawyer plays an important role in verifying whether or not the potential testator has sufficient mental capacity to make a will.

If there is any doubt, the solicitor can recommend and assist with obtaining medical opinion to confirm mental capacity.

This may seem like an extra hurdle at the outset but it could be time and money well spent – it is certainly much easier and cheaper than going to court to defend a will at a later date.

And let’s not forget: seven-figure estates may have a wow factor at first glance but in reality they’re becoming more common because house prices have risen so much in recent years.

Making a will is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. You are safeguarding the future of your loved ones.

Failure to do so creates unnecessary financial risks for them – particularly in these days of divorce, remarrying and blended families.

But penning a quick will and crossing your fingers is not enough. It must be defensible if challenges arise. And for that you need to take the right steps in advance.

Find out how from our solicitors. Contact them for expert legal advice on defending or contesting a will, disputes and litigation – Partner Simon Steele-Williams, Bournemouth office, 01202 355697

This document is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this document, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. If you seek further information, please contact Managing Partner Neil Andrews at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.