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‘Disputed Wills’ warning from expert

An expert is advising people who feel they have not been reasonably provided for in a Will that there are ways to dispute the document.

Stephanie Kerr, solicitor in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution department at regional law firm Napthens, explains that a Will is one of the best ways to ensure assets are shared according to an individual’s final wishes.

However, she also reports that there has been a marked increase in the number of inheritance disputes resulting in court cases.

Figures reported for cases heard under the 1975 Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act, reveal an increase from just over a dozen cases in 2005 to 116 cases brought to the High Court in 2015.

The legal industry is also watching the result of a recent court case on the topic with interest; a woman has disputed her mother’s Will after it left almost half-a-million pounds to animal charities.

The daughter has argued that she is entitled to a share of the money despite her mother’s wishes.

Stephanie Kerr said: “Cases like this, and the use of the 1975 Act, show that there is a much-increased public awareness of what can be done if the terms of a Will are disputed by surviving family members.

“If the court finds in the favour of the daughter in this high profile case, we are expecting more such challenges to take place in the future.

“There are often cases where family members may simply feel aggrieved by a relative’s final wishes, but sometimes there is a genuine case that they have not been properly provided for.

“In the past when people may not have even considered court action, thanks to increased awareness of cases like this example we are seeing more Wills being examined by a court.”

Stephanie Kerr solicitor Preston