Spike in family members challenging Wills since onset of Covid pandemic
THE number of people making a will has increased dramatically since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.
That in turn led to a rise in family members contesting ‘lockdown wills’ as thousands of people of all ages across the country – notably the clinically vulnerable – rushed to get their affairs in order.
These factors, coupled with the added strain on mental health, having more time to reflect in self-isolation and health fears alleviated by Covid-19, all contributed to a surge in numbers.
Edward Hughes Solicitors, based in Rhyl and Colwyn Bay, has experienced this trend in past months.
There have been challenges from those who were left out of a will, or with questions over whether it was properly signed and witnessed, how much they were left and the deceased’s mental capacity at the time of writing the document.
“There are several contributing factors,” said senior partner David Jones.
“Many people are suffering financial hardship and there is widespread concern and even panic in some instances – which is understandable given the unprecedented situation we are in – among more elderly members of the community and retirees who want to secure the futures of their loved ones.
“To see a subsequent increase in people contesting wills is down to the challenges many are facing and, given widely reported issues around mental health and dementia, what the deceased frame of mind was when the will was signed.
“This is all unfortunate, but it is happening – as well as forgery and fraud of wills – so we try to be there to support clients who have any questions and avoid these disputes during what is already a torrid and emotional time.”
Last March, solicitors nationwide reported an immediate rise of more than 75% in will enquiries due to the uncertainty around the virus.
With lockdown rules in effect, they were forced to find alternative socially distanced ways to ensure correct procedure was observed, and PPE (personal protective equipment) and video conferencing became the norm.
But that in turn could lead to future probate battles in court, added David.
“Even where the intention and requests of the deceased seem clear, an estate could still be contested under law,” he said.
“This can be a complicated process so we urge anyone in this position to get in touch and, where possible, together we can work towards an amicable outcome for all concerned.”
For more information, visit www.qualitysolicitors.com/edwardhughes and follow them on social media @QSEH_Solicitors.