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How to avoid challenges to your Will…

Published on 23 September 2016 | Modified on 6 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett
estate administration

Last summer, the landmark case which saw a disinherited daughter (Mrs Ilott) successfully challenge the Will of her late mother has left many people worried. Now that the dust as settled, we can look at the lessons to be learnt from this case.

The main aim of a Will is to allow you to specify who should and who shouldn’t benefit from your estate when you pass away. If express wishes can be overlooked when a disgruntled relative makes a fuss, is there any benefit in making a Will at all?

Of course there is!

It is very important to make a Will – here are some reasons why the case of Mrs Ilott should not deter you from making a Will:

  • Only certain people can make a claim against your estate: No need to worry about that cousin that you’ve not heard from in decades – only spouses, cohabiting partners*, children**, or someone who you have maintained financially immediately before your death can make a claim on your estate.
  • They have limited options: They must be able to show that you did not make ‘reasonable financial provision’ for them in your Will (or on intestacy). If they are not married to you, this is strictly limited to what they might otherwise expect in relation to maintenance. If they are married to you at the time of your death, then it is somewhat broader, but does take into account all the circumstances.
  • There is a strict time limit: Anyone not happy with being missed out of your Will must make their claim within 6 months of the Grant of Probate. Outside of this time, they must get the permission of the court, which is not often successful.
  • They are very unlikely to be successful: The requirements mentioned above are interpreted very narrowly by the courts – even in the instance of Mrs Ilott. This means that there are a lot of hoops to get through before they even have a shot at claiming on your estate. So it will very rarely be economically viable to make a claim.

Not yet convinced?

The Private Client team here at Poole Alcock have many years of experience in preparing Wills that are not only designed to reflect your wishes exactly, but also to prevent future claims. If you are worried about where your money may go once you pass away, we will be happy to discuss making a Will that reflects where YOU want your assets to go. Please call us on 01270 762325 (Sandbach), 01270 625478 (Nantwich), or 01260 275337 (Congleton or Alsager) to arrange an appointment.

*they must have lived with you for at least 2 years prior to your death.

**this includes someone who you and your spouse treated as a child to your marriage.

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