Six common reasons to contest a will

The number of families contesting wills has risen dramatically since the recession. In 2008 some law firms estimated that the amount of wills being contested in court had doubled, or even tripled, in the UK. Studies indicate they have continued to soar since then.

A high proportion of these court cases are caused by incidents which are entirely preventable, meaning thousands of pounds worth of money is being wasted on legal costs every year. Let’s explore some of the main reasons why people decide to contest a will.

Wills are ‘unfair’

The main cause of a will being contested in the UK is that a family member believes that it is unfair on them. When writing their will, some people believe they have the right so spread their money however they like, but that’s not necessarily true. Family members do have a legal right to contest a will if they have not been allotted what they deserve. If the deceased leaves one son out of their will, whilst keeping all their brothers and sisters in, this could legally be deemed unfair.

Lack of mental capacity

Wills can be contested if it is believed that the testator lacked the mental capacity to write a sensible will. If it can be proved that the testator lacked the capacity to understand how much property they owned, the identity of their loved ones or the basic logic behind what a will is then a will could be contested. This type of contest would typically occur if the testator had a mental illness when writing their will.

Duress

If it can be proved that the testator was forced or blackmailed into executing their will a certain way, it can be contested.

Fraud

If the testator was deceived into writing their will a certain way, this could be judged as probate fraud. In this case, there are two main types of deception. The first of these is fraud in the execution, such as making the testator believe they are signing something other than a will. The second type is fraud in the inducement, which could involve deliberately mis-leading the testator in order to change their course of action.

Disputed ownership

If the deceased appears to be giving away something that doesn’t actually belong to them, then this represents strong grounds for appeal.

Incorrectly drafted will

A will can be contested if it is believed that an accidental error was made. This contest might come in the form of a lawsuit against the person who drafted the will. It can be hard to prove though. If the wronged person was left out of the will altogether is not a family member and was left out of their will altogether, they have no grounds for appeal.

The common theme linking all six of these scenarios is that the odds of them occurring are significantly reduced when the testator hires a professional will writing service. These services are staffed with experts on probate law and will can offer advice that can prevent wills being appealed against once you die.

The small fee paid to the professional will writer could save a family thousands of pounds in legal costs later on down the line.

Launch of The Care Inquiry in the UK

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) has announced that it is taking part in The Care Inquiry, which it describes as a timely and important opportunity to consider how the care system is working for children in care (and for those on the edge of care). It is a chance to think together about recent trends, current challenges and opportunities and future strategy.

The Inquiry has a vital focus on the achievement of stability and a positive sense of identity and belonging for children in care and for those raised by family members as an alternative to care. It has the potential to make a significant contribution to our collective understanding of these issues, to build on recent, welcome reforms and to inform future policy development.

BAAF believes that every child has a right to loving and secure family relationships and that secure attachments to carers are essential to children’s mental health and psychological development. It believes that every effort should be made to enable children to live in their own birth families and kinship network, providing that this is consistent with the child’s welfare.

BAAF believes that where it is not in the best interests of children to live within their family of origin, an alternative family should be found which can provide continuous care, stability and life-long commitment. And it believes that children have a right to have their needs understood, assessed and reviewed so that where it is necessary for them to live away from home, their placements can be planned and their needs met.

Further reading:- http://www.baaf.org.uk/media/releases/launch-care-inquiry

Children should come first in divorce

The overwhelming majority of Britons believe that putting children’s interests first or avoiding conflict are the most important factors when going through divorce, according to a new survey from Resolution, the national family law association.

Four out of five (78%) say that putting children’s interests first would be their most or second most important consideration in a divorce, while 53% would prioritise making the divorce as conflict-free as possible.

Despite this, over four-fifths of people (81%) believe that children end up being the main casualties of divorce, and 40% believe that divorces can never be without conflict – a figure that rises to nearly half (47%) of those who are currently divorced themselves. Nearly half (45%) think that most divorces involve a visit to court, despite the increasing availability of non-court alternatives,

In stark contrast to some of the high-profile divorce cases in recent years, financial factors are not seen as particularly important, with only 1% saying that being financially better off than their partner would be the most important consideration should they divorce.

Modern men make better husbands

New research from The Marriage Foundation has shown that the divorce rate for wife-granted divorces has more than halved since 1993. According to the report, this is because reduced pressure from family and society to get married makes men who decide to tie the knot more dedicated to their relationship.

The report, written by Harry Benson, Communications director at the Marriage Foundation, is the first ever analysis of divorce rates both by gender – whether the divorce is granted to the husband or to the wife – and years of marriage.

It reveals that amongst couples in their first decade of marriage, husband granted divorce rates increased by 1% between 1993 and 2010, while wife-granted divorce rates have fallen by 27%. When this analysis is applied to just the first three years of marriage the drop in divorces granted to women is a startling 51%.

“This dramatic fall in divorce rates is good news and should give people confidence in the strengths and benefits of this wonderful institution,” said Sir Paul Coleridge, the high court judge who launched the Marriage Foundation this year. “It is the instability of cohabitation that is our greatest concern.”

For further reading see http://www.marriagefoundation.org.uk/Web/News/News.aspx?news=123&RedirectUrl=~/Web/News/Default.aspx

Latest care demand statistics – guest post from UK family lawyers

The latest figures released by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) have revealed that care application demand continues to remain at a very high level.

There were a total of 4,489 applications made to Cafcass during the period April to August 2012, which is an increase of 8.5% over the same period last year.

Every month of this financial year has seen the highest number of applications ever received for that month, with the exception of June. May 2012 saw the highest number of care applications (982) ever made to Cafcass in a single month.