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Headline-grabbing court case over woman who successfully challenged mother’s will leads more people to check wills

The widely publicised case of a disinherited woman who successfully contested her mother’s will has led more people  to check their own wills, reports a Leicestershire law firm.

Christian Kenkins of Lawson-West's Wills & Probate team, said there had been a notable increase in the number of clients wanting reassurance about their wills in the wake of this landmark decision.

Earlier this year a Hertfordshire woman who had been cut out of her mother’s will was awarded £164,000 inheritance after the Court of Appeal ruled she should be given a third of the estate.

The woman contested the will after discovering her mother had bequeathed £486,000 to animal charities with which she, the mother, had no connection.

It was ruled that the mother had not left ‘reasonable provision’ for her daughter in her will.   The inheritance the daughter has subsequently been awarded, would said the courts, enable her to buy her housing association home as well as giving her money to live on.

Christian said: “This case has led many people to check what’s in their will and in some instances, change it or update it.

“There is some concern that because this woman’s will was successfully challenged in the courts people won’t necessarily have their final wishes carried out.

“In fact despite this ruling parents can still disinherit their children – it’s just that children may now find it easier to challenge the will or claim a larger amount of inheritance.

“For example, if your estate is worth hundreds of thousands of pounds you can’t leave your child a cash gift of £1,000 in the mistaken belief that you’re at least leaving them something.

“The courts are unlikely to see it that way and your child may well be able to make a claim on your estate.”

The important point to remember, Christian added, is that each individual case is judged entirely on its own merit.

He said: “Courts may, for example, consider factors such as the disinherited child’s personal circumstances.

“If your adult son or daughter is a millionaire then they won’t need to be provided for in your will – unlike the case of this daughter, who was on benefits and could not afford to buy her own home.

“We would also always advise seeking professional legal advice to try and prevent siblings falling out over their inheritance.  Disagreements about who inherits what can lead to family breakdowns so it’s worth thinking about the consequences your wishes might have when making your will.”

For more information please contact Christan Jenkins on 01858 445 480.

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