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Contesting A Will Becomes Fashionable

Full marks! Dangerous, Invincible and Bad…but at least the King of Pop made a Will  …though it hasn’t stopped mother Katherine Jackson, allegedly egged on by father Joe (totally ignored in the Will ), from mounting a legal challenge and contesting a will that leaves everything to The Michael Jackson Family Trust.

Contesting a Will

She is seeking to wrest control of the USD500 million estate from the executors appointed by the Will, notwithstanding a ‘no contest’ clause in the Will that disinherits any beneficiary who challenges its validity or its terms.

It will no doubt be a thriller and there will be blood on the dance floor at the end of it all.  Ho, Ho.

In the UK the number of people contesting a Will is rising steeply. In the last 2 years the number of cases coming before the Courts has apparently risen threefold.  Our own experience, bears out the trend. Our Private Client Unit launched a free Contesting A Will legal advice service last week and has been inundated with enquiries.

This is due to a number of identifiable factors including the increasing number of long-term ‘common law’ marriages, the number of people relying on cheap and inadequate ‘DIY wills’, successive remarriages leading to rival clans of children, avarious second wives and husbands, the increasing value of estates due to rising property prices and the increasing number of people leaving all of their estate to charitable or political institutions.

Increasingly, people are contesting a will on the grounds that the testator may not have been of sound mind or have had ‘testamentary capacity’ when making the will.

Notably,  a will was successfully challenged last year on the basis that the deceased had left all of his £8 million estate to the Conservative Party. One assumes that the court did not take that to be evidence in itself that the testator must have been delusional when he made the will and that the case wasn’t won on ‘res ipsa loquitur’ argument.

The courts are showing increasing willingness to order that the costs of cases contesting a will should be paid out of the estate itself or shared between the parties and the increasing availabilty of legal costs insurance cover and conditional fee agreements means that fewer would-be litigants are deterred by the costs risk of launching a legal challenge.

The Moral being …make a proper will …unless you want the entertainment to continue after you’ve gone!

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