Report: over 12 million UK Citizens would legally challenge a will if unhappy with their inheritance

Posted May 31, 2019.

A recent report commissioned by UK insurer Direct Line provides further evidence of the importance of having a properly drafted will to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and to help prevent unpleasant and stressful family disputes.

The report shows that over 12 million UK Citizens would be prepared to take legal action if they feel that a suitable inheritance from a loved one is not forthcoming following their death. Such legal actions are usually the result of there being no will at all, or that the will in question being inappropriate, poorly drafted or simply not updated to reflect changing circumstances throughout life. Half of adults in the UK do not have a will, with many simply assuming that their estate and asset will automatically go to their partner and children. However, the rise in the number of people that will experience multiple marriages, step-children, half-siblings, etc, together with the decline of marriage as a way of formalising long-term relationships, means that lack of a will can lead to misunderstanding and disappointment when a will is executed.

The importance of a Lasting Power of Attorney

The report shows that in 2017, there were over 8,000 formal legal actions to stop a grant of probate (where a will is acted on and money is distributed to benefactors), a six percent increase on the previous year. Another factor behind such legal actions is the general lack of trust among family members when it comes to finance-related issues, with around half of UK adults saying that they don’t have a family member they could trust to deal with their affairs when they are gone, or should they lose the ability to do so themselves. Whilst the best way to deal with these concerns would be to draft a Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) which grants and individual (or individuals) the legal power to manage your financial affairs and personal welfare, only one in five UK Citizens has such an arrangement in place. Indeed, research shows that over 40 million citizens are under the (incorrect) impression that those closest to them will automatically have the right to manage their affairs should they become incapable themselves at some point. 

Contesting wills

In addition to the emotional and psychological stress, contesting a will can also be expensive.   Whilst the basic application to stop a grant of probate is only £20, the additional legal costs involved in taking things further can soon mount up. Commenting on their report, a Direct Line spokesperson said:

“While people are increasingly contesting wills, everyone has the right to choose how they’d like to distribute their assets, even if it seems unusual or excludes even the closest family members…people can be surprised and hurt by the contents of a will, so people may wish to discuss with beneficiaries and those that might think they would inherit, how they plan to distribute their assets.”

Get professional advice

If you need help with probate, a will or a lasting power of attorney, Bakers Solicitors have friendly and approachable experts who are here to help. Call now on 

(01252) 744637  and speak to Simon, our Estate Planning Manager, or email