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Will Disputes

Will disputes are rising, with testamentary capacity being a significant factor. One in three people born in the UK will develop dementia in their lifetime.  The decline in cognitive capacity may occur gradually over time. Family members often attribute this to getting older or simply forgetfulness.  If left unaddressed or undiagnosed, simple forgetfulness can result in confusion, accidents, self-neglect and, in extreme cases, endangering one’s life.


A report in 2019 commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Society from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) found there were around 900,000 people with dementia in the UK.  This was projected to rise to 1.6 million people by 2040.


Last Will and Testament
Last Will and Testament

Lack of testamentary capacity can lead to vulnerable individuals being coerced into making wills against their wishes.  In some situations, siblings dispute a will because their parent has disinherited them from their will and given over full control by granting one child power of attorney for health and finance.  


It is not uncommon for multiple beneficiaries living far and wide with limited contact with their parents and a sole sibling holding power of attorney and taking on the full responsibility of caring for and supporting their parent(s).  This is when a sense of injustice or pressures of life can be a trigger to coerce a parent with capacity issues to make a new will without other members of the family knowing.


Will Dispute case study from The National Will Register


Debbie (not her real name) instructed a solicitor to dispute her late mother’s will. While Debbie lived abroad, she had always maintained a close relationship with her mother. As such, her mother made her aware that she had written a will and made provisions for her and her brother.


As the years passed, Debbie’s mother became increasingly confused and was suspected of having dementia. Contact between Debbie and her mother had lessened due to the difficulties with distance and her worsening condition, but she did travel when her mother became terminally ill.


It was then that she discovered that her brother had been awarded sole power of attorney. Additionally, he’d instructed a solicitor to make a new will that had disinherited Debbie from the will, with her share going to her brother.


Finding a previously written will, preferably one when the testator has the capacity, with instructions that may be more common or fair, often helps provide context to the situation and outline a potentially significant change of heart, at least on paper.


Debbie did exactly that, searching for the will she knew of through a Certainty Will Search with The National Will Register. The search brought up two wills: the current disputed will and the original.


Armed with the original will found by The National Will Register, the validity of the new will was challenged.


If you want to write your will and register it we can help you. Call us today!



The National Will Register (2023, September 5) Will search finds original will in Inheritance Act claim (https://www.nationalwillregister.co.uk/case-studies/will-search-finds-original-will-in-inheritance-act-claim/)



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