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Will Regulation Help Curb Rise in Disputed Wills?

Will writing is on course to becoming a reserved legal activity along with estate administration, with the planned regulation intended to enhance the quality of service and potentially limit contentious probate.

By the middle of this month, the Legal Services Board (LSB) is expected to file its recommendations for regulating will writing and estate administration to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, who will have 90 days to respond. Any further changes to the law are to be voted on in parliament.

The topic of regulating will writing was introduced as a way to ensure high quality of service, especially when taking a look at the alarming data on the dramatic rise in disputed wills. According to Ministry of Justice data obtained by The Independent, the number of cases launched at London's High Court challenging the provisions made in wills has surged by 700% over the past five years.

The number of disputes over specific clauses in wills rose from 10 in 2006 to 82 in 2011. Cases seeking to invalidate whole wills have almost doubled, to 135 from 73, the data showed. When taking into account actions concerning trusts, the number of legacy disputes being considered by the High Court has increased to 300, up from 95 in 2006.

The rise in disputed wills is partly attributed to the economic downturn as well as increasingly complex family ties. Now that families are more geographically spread out, it is important for people to write a will, following professional advice, and explain to family members their decisions in order to avoid family feuds and costly litigation after their death.