Expensive legal battles over probate are increasingly likely because more people are relying on DIY wills. After news that High Court inheritance disputes had spiralled from 227 in 2018 to 368 in 2019 – a rise of more than 60%, Michelle Hetheridge, Director of the Wills & Estates department at Thursfields, explained how DIY wills could easily result in mistakes which made them “at best difficult to administer” and “at worst completely illegitimate”.
The article in The Law Society Gazette reported that the upsurge was “largely fuelled by the popularity of DIY wills”, because these were “often riddled with errors and omissions”. It went on to explain that disputes often arose because unqualified family members were more often dealing with the distribution of assets themselves, rather than seeking professional advice.
Michelle said: “Probate law is already complex, and scenarios become even more complicated once you add the important factors of intricate modern family structures and the growing value of property.
There are often then perceived conflicts of interest when beneficiaries who are themselves family members end up administering estates, making costly legal disputes involving other family members increasingly likely.”
Michelle added: “All these factors perfectly illustrate the importance of getting a qualified professional to draft your will and deal with the administration.
Lawyers focusing on wills, estates and probate become experts in these areas and can quickly advise on the best estate planning prior to death, resulting in the swift, transparent and comparatively inexpensive administration of estates post-death.
It is far better to call on qualified advice at what is already a stressful time rather than trying to do it yourself and ending up out-of-pocket and splitting the remaining family.”