Recent high profile cases in the media have highlighted the need for thorough legal advice when making a Will. Testamentary freedom, the legal right to choose who you want to benefit form your assets when you die is a given for most people. Many do not know that back on 1st April 1976 (without any April fools irony) the Government tempered this right by allowing those who feel they have been left out to claim they should be given some or some more money!
These include spouses, civil partners (yes some people do leave their spouses absolutely nothing), former spouses/civil partners (yes, even though you think the other half has gone away they may come back for more), cohabitants (one of the few times those sometimes called a "common law husband/wife" may actually have some rights), children including some step-children, others where you have acted in the role of a parent including some grandchildren and finally those who were being financially maintained by the deceased.
The Court's powers are very wide and can re-write the whole Will. Knowing how your wishes in your Will may be fought over is crucial as well as your Solicitor's notes and documentary evidence when you have passed on and are looking down (or up) at your family squabbling over your pennies.
The number of will-related disputes to reach the High Court climbed by more than 80pc last year to 178 – the highest number since 2007. Booming property prices are the “main motivation” for children and other family members to contest a will, say lawyers. Number of will disputes to reach the High Court The number of high court disputes over wills But other factors are usually also at play. Parents and their children may have become estranged, or fallen out over a particular issue. More commonly, families simply fail to discuss their plans ahead of time, leading to shock and anger if the contents of the will are unexpected.