Why Do Probate Disputes Appear To Be On The Rise?

In recent weeks there have been a number of high profile news items detailing how families have contested Wills and the probate process.

Recent stories include the family of the Watership Down Author successfully disputing issues with a film director, a daughter contesting her mother’s Will so the estate didn’t go primarily to her brother, and the case of Sally Challen, who murdered her abusive husband, and inherited his estate, to name a few.

But does this mean that the number of contested probates is increasing, or that it’s just more of an interesting story to the general public, as they get to read what can often be described as a testator’s ‘dirty laundry’.

Contested probate cases can make for interesting reading, but it also brings to the forefront the importance of contesting a Will if it’s necessary.

Although it is probably worth mentioning that a lot of contested probate cases are settled long before the courts need to intervene, so not every case is like the ones represented in the national press.

Modern day families can often be complex, with step-parents and children with Wills resulting from second, third or even fourth marriages, that can sometimes leave a layer of tension for children from previous relationships.

The ability to create Wills online now, with little or no legal input, can also throw up some red flags when the testator does pass away.

Any tensions that have been simmering away therefore bubble to the surface and result in litigation once the testator has passed away, and form the basis of the case.

Throw on top of that, the coronavirus pandemic which may have encouraged many people to think about getting their affairs in order. As a result of social distancing and self isolation Will writers have been unable to conduct face to face meetings with clients, and getting Wills signed and witnessed has unearth a pandora’s box of complications.

It will be interesting to see if in the months or years to come there will be a knock on effect with regards to the number of probate disputes.

All in all probate disputes are not on the rise, but the fact many of them are making headline news, brings to the forefront this often taboo subject.

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