Safeguarding your Will against challenge
According to a recent survey conducted by a prominent life insurance company, 24% of residents in the UK would be prepared to contest the Will of a loved one if they were unsatisfied with the way in which the assets were divided and distributed.
There are numerous grounds for challenging a Will, and these grounds are narrowly defined in the law. In Northern Ireland, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) (NI) Order 1979 allows a spouse, former spouse, civil partner, child, or dependent of the deceased to contest a Will if they believe that they have not received reasonable provision.
The grief and stress caused by bereavement is often cited as one of the dominant reasons for challenging a Will, as those family members who feel slighted by the provisions of a Will often feel driven to see it altered. This emotionally charged environment can also put additional strain on, sometimes already tense, familial relationships, which is why we sometimes see sibling disputes and deeply rooted relationship issues coming to a head in a probate setting.
If you are writing a Will and are concerned that it may be challenged, there are a number of steps that you and your solicitor can take in order to better safeguard your interests. Many clients claim that their decision to challenge a Will was not made as a result of missing out on money or material gain, but rather as a matter of principle, and dynamics such as these are one of the things which can be considered during the initial Will writing stage in order to ensure that estate division proceedings remain as amicable as is possible under the circumstances.
Here are some things to keep in mind when writing your Will which may help safeguard it from being challenged in the future:
Consider your Executors carefully
Parents writing Wills typically name all of their children as Executors of the Will, but what if they don’t get along? It is incredibly important to consider the state of the relationships of your chosen Executors and how they will interact, as well as taking into account the emotional strain bereavement will cause.
Do your Executors and your Beneficiaries get along?
Similar to the above point, it is important to consider how well your proposed Executors and intended Beneficiaries actually get along. If they are not on great terms, it can cause disputes and even delay the administration of the estate.
Consider including a No-Contest Clause in your Will
If you are writing a Will and believe that a challenge is likely, you could discuss the possibility of including a no-contest clause in the wording of your Will. This clause states that a beneficiary will forfeit their interest in the estate if they bring a challenge against the Will.