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Wills and probate – disputed wills


Wills and probate – disputed wills

There is evidence that more people than ever are disputing wills with reports suggesting a 700% increase in High Court action launched to dispute wills in the past five years. In the same period of time there has also been a doubling in the number of wills which have been declared invalid.

The recession is seen as partly to blame for this astonishing rise along with possibly a rise in the number of step families and co-habiting couples, all of which can muddy the waters as opposed to married couples where wills can often be quite straightforward.

Dispute resolution - mediation

However, whilst there may be more disputes, there are alternatives to fighting it out in court. Mitigation is one possible solution to many such problems. Quicker and cheaper than going through the courts, it can also be helpful to get the disputing parties together to air the issues and have an open discussion.

Advantages of mediation

  1. Though the various sides can become entrenched and more forceful, refusing to give ground in the adversarial surroundings of a courtroom, the opposite is often true of mediation where the very fact that the parties are together in a room, willing to talk and open to hearing both sides of the argument, can often bring about resolution to the satisfaction of all concerned.
  2. In mediation, again in contrast to the situation in a courtroom, the family are in charge of the proceedings. Though mediation is often heard more in relation to couples planning to separate or divorce, it is also increasingly being spoken of as a solution to disputing families who are arguing over a will.

What to expect

  • The people concerned in the dispute, together with the mediator will meet and the mediator will make the introductions as well as explaining some of the main points about mediation, namely that it is a confidential, without prejudice, procedure. The mediator will also explain further the aim of mediation, how it works and how the sessions will proceed.
  • Mediation costs between £2,000 and £4,000 per day with the cost usually divided equally between the parties. Though it is often hailed as a cheaper alternative to court action and this is true, the parties will also be responsible for the costs of their solicitor who will prepare for the mediation process and attend it.
  • The parties will have to ensure that they are available and there is no pressure for time on the day the mediation is due to take place. If it is booked for a full day there is every chance it may last that long, even longer as some last into the evening. It is important that the parties try to stay free of time pressures and concentrate their efforts on finding solutions to any problems which are thought to exist.