Contested wills going to court, 140% up in the last 10 years


Recent research by the law firm Private Client Solicitors has discovered that legal action brought by unhappy beneficiaries or people who think they should be beneficiaries, is on the increase.

And this might be the tip of the iceberg – just the ones that get to court. Some cases were brought by genuine claimants, e.g. cohabitees, but some were opportunistic.

Reasons for this are varied. Large estates offering much greater assets might be worth contesting, rather than those with just a few thousand pounds, and such estates are on the rise, fueled by higher house values. Complicated family set-ups: remarriages, step-children, etc mean the beneficiary list might be long and complex. And unmarried couples may assume rights that they simply don’t have.

It is very tempting to create a DIY will, either through a will pack from a high street retailer or through an online service, but think first. Do you have a traditional family set up? Are there any godchildren or step children? Are you planning to do anything slightly unusual, e.g. leave more money to one child than another, or leave money to grandchildren and not children? Are you cohabiting? If there is anything in your will that is not 100% straightforward, then we strongly suggest you employ a solicitor to create the correct legal wording. They have the knowledge and experience in creating a will that can avoid problems and disputes in the future.

Challenges to a will can be upsetting and time-consuming at a time which is already distressing for surviving family members. And if challenges are upheld, legal costs are taken from the estate, depleting the total value of the estate which is to be divided. Sometimes paying more money upfront, saves money (and stress) in the long term.

24 January 2024

Further reading:

Avoid the Aretha Franklin method of will-writing!

Are wills worth the paper they’re written on?

Sorry to mention this… but but when you die, is your business prepared?

Making a will: Overview (

For more information about Wills, Trusts and Probate, please contact Lois Di Vito at 01756 692869 or email