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How Disputing Wills Can Destroy Estates

Posted on Friday 1st November 2013 by

In today’s changing society, people are now more likely to challenge a will than they were 20 or 30 years ago – but caution is required.

Attitudes may be changing but the risks have not.

Disputing a will is not something that should be undertaken lightly. Anyone planning to litigate should always be mindful of the following:

  • What is to be gained from contesting the will?
  • What are the chances of success?
  • How much will the process cost?

This may seem obvious but it is all too easy for some people to lose track of these important considerations at such a sensitive time – especially where personal feelings become heightened due to any conflict and parties’ opposing views become entrenched.

In one recent High Court case, a judge warned that three siblings arguing over an inheritance were in danger of squandering their possible benefits from the estate by running up disproportionate legal costs.

The judge compared the case with the Dickens classic Bleak House. Unless the trio reached a compromise, the whole estate would be “eaten up in costs,” said the judge.

This is perhaps a stark reminder to people involved in such disputes that proceeding through the courts should be a last resort.

All reasonable attempts to negotiate a settlement should be attempted first, through mediation if necessary.

For more information, contact Partner Simon Steele-Williams, 01202 293226.

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