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The Will That Ate The World

Wills are wonderful things. They ensure that everyone can feel at peace with their decisions, knowing that their precious, well loved possessions, their family homes, and their hard earned money will be passed on to those they feel deserve it. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the case that others don’t see it in quite the same way – and, if they can meet the right conditions, then they may well contest or challenge a will that was deemed perfectly correct by the deceased.

Recently, more and more wills are coming under scrutiny, and are becoming the cause of major disputes. This means that many more legal cases are being brought in order to try to sort out the mess (even when the will was perfectly legal in the first place) and this in turn means that the estate is being eaten up in legal fees.

In some cases, this means that, even if the claimant wins the dispute, there will be nothing left to inherit. An example of this is the 9 year battle over Peter Ustinov’s will. This particular will was already over thirty years old when the actor died, and therefore was possibly out of date, hence the problems. When the dispute started, there was a multimillion pound estate at stake – by the time it is settled there may be nothing at all.

But why is it just recently that contesting wills and challenging inheritances has become so commonplace? Many experts believe that the recession has a part to play – with people really feeling the pinch, some of them choose to try their hand at gaining from the death of a relative, even if they weren’t originally intended to benefit. Desperate times for some people end in desperately sad family disputes and feuds.

Another reason is that people are living much longer now. This can mean many things, such as more than one marriage, children from different partners, or wills that, although once perfectly correct, are now out of date.

To add to the misery, average estate values are now actually worth more than ever before – so there is even more reason to want a slice of them. Equally, this also means that solicitors’ bills have risen, as many work on a percentage scheme. Therefore, the bigger the estate, the more goes to the solicitor.

Keeping your will up to date, and seeking expert advice is one way to try to keep any disputes at bay once you have passed on, and using a firm of probate experts who will charge a fixed price rather than extortionate fees is a way of ensuring that, even if the worst comes to the worst, and your will is challenged, there will still be something left at the end of it all for your beneficiaries to inherit.

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