Davis Blank Furniss has reported a 35% spike in new will dispute cases over the past 12 months (ending June 2013).
The Private Client department, which handles wills for clients across the North West, saw the biggest rise in enquiries during the first half of this year. Reasons given during recent dispute claims have included; when a will does not provide adequately for an unmarried partner, when family members are cut out without written explanation, when illegitimate children – or when someone has children from multiple relationships – are involved, and when handwritten amendments are made to a will after it has been executed.
As a result, Davis Blank Furniss is warning members of the public to firstly prepare a will and to then ensure it is drawn properly if they want to avoid costly disputes. Over the past few months, the firm has conducted a survey in the North West region and the research showed that 47% of respondents did not have a will at all despite knowing the potential risks involved.
Since the start of the year, Davis Blank Furniss has also seen a greater demand for its mediation services in these kinds of cases. This is because clients are realising this option is often more preferable to lengthy and expensive court proceedings. Mediation appointments are up some 40% since June 2012.
Karen Witter – partner in the Private Client Department at Davis Blank Furniss – commented: “”It may sound obvious but having a carefully prepared and robust will is essential. However, many people see it as a ‘job for tomorrow’ but that attitude can prove expensive; both financially and emotionally.
Karen added: It’s so important to have your wishes fulfilled and there’s nothing you can do after you die. As a business, we are also seeing clients who have been advised wrongly by will providers. This is a worrying trend but the Lord Chancellor’s decision to reject the Legal Services Board’s recommendations that will writing should be regulated means consumers need to be even more careful.”