A costly contest of Wills

When Sampson Edonya (a widower) died leaving £1.3m, less inheritance tax of £390,000 (£910,000 net), he Willed 50 per cent to his son and 50 per cent to his stepdaughter, giving them £455,000 each.

Sampson’s son decided to contest the Will, saying he should get more than 50 per cent. He claimed various grounds for the action, including that he thought the stepdaughter must have been in collusion with the Will writers as she lived in Ilford and they were in Brentwood, i.e. both in Essex.

Bringing the action cost £130,000.

Defending the action cost £110,000.

The action failed and the son was forced to pay all costs. He was left with £215,000, less than half of the £455,000 his father wanted him to have.

Even where a Will does exist, more and more frequently nowadays they are being contested. Last year, such claims were up a massive 158 per cent on claims the previous year, and there is nothing to suggest that this was an anomaly.

However, the simple inclusion of a Lifetime Trust can prevent a Will from being contested under the Inheritance Act 1975. Had this been done in this case, then what happened could have been avoided.

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