Contested Wills Reach Record-Breaking High

Contested Wills Reach Record-Breaking High

According to an article in, contested wills was at an all-time high in 2019 and this is expected to rise in 2020 as a result of coronavirus.

The Ministry of Justice said that 188 cases had been brought to them in 2019. This is a significant increase from the 128 cases in 2018, 145 in 2017 and, the previously held record of, 158 in 2016.  Experts are preparing for 2020 to bring about a new record due to the global pandemic that has meant new ways of signing and witnessing wills have had to be implemented.  It is expected that more individuals will be claiming that they are entitled to a share of, or in some cases a larger portion of, an estate.

Last month, JMW Solicitors reported they had seen an increase of 260% in contested probate cases and Philip Collins, head of the contested estates team at Winckworth Sherwood said:

“We are not at all surprised by the new data coming out from the Ministry of Justice and expect this number to increase further.”

Furthermore, the article highlighted that the postponement and cancellation of weddings is also expected to be a cause of contested wills. Should one of the couple die without a will before the wedding can take place then this will leave their intended spouse without legal protection as there is little provision in English law for cohabiting couples.

Ben Lyon, will, trust and estate disputes solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said that:

“One way to combat this would be to enter into a cohabitation agreement…the other alternative would be to make a will.”

To assist solicitors and legal professionals, Finders International offer a Missing Will Service which can help confirm a deceased’s intestacy status or check for a later version of a will. They also can apply for an AVIVA insurance policy to cover against the possibility of a will being found after distribution, giving solicitors and beneficiaries protection and peace of mind.

This article was submitted to be published by Finders International as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.

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Finders International were established in 1997 by Managing Director Danny Curran. We trace missing heirs and beneficiaries to Estates, property, funds and assets worldwide. We also provide a range of Legal Support services and International Asset services including overseas bankruptcy services and Medallion Signature Guarantees. Within the private sector, we work with numerous Solicitors, Accountants, Corporate or State Trustees and financial institutions. In the public sector we assist local authorities, coroners and others in tracing next of kin.

For two years running, we have been awarded ‘Best UK Probate Research Firm’ for 2019 and 2020 at the UK Probate Research awards.

Our MD is known as the industry spokesman with over 100 media contributions; Forbes Magazine, The Times, UK nationals, ITV’s This Morning to list a few. Our aim is to positively promote the probate research profession.

We complete hundreds of pro-bono cases every year, helping with stories of reunions of family separated by war or forced adoption and reuniting people with family heirlooms such as their ancestors lost war medals or long-lost books.

We are also a founding member of IAPPR, the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers, Genealogists and Heir Hunters which aims to provide a single, authoritative voice for global probate research industry professionals and has an impressive list of international member companies.


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