More people than ever before are challenging Wills and testaments in the UK, according to an article in the International Adviser.

The private wealth firm Boodle Hatfield told the International Adviser that the number of challenges hit a high last year, and that the Covid-19 pandemic was a “potential significant factor” at play.

In total, 192 people brought cases where they claimed they were entitled to a share or larger portion of an estate in 2020, compared to 188 in the previous year and a 50 percent increase since 2018.

Financial loss because of lockdown

Many people suffered financial loss during lockdown, while some estates saw increases in value because of the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday. The former might have played a part in the rise in disputes, as James Woods-Davidson from Boodle Hatfield’s private wealth disputes team pointed out, saying that those who had suffered financially during the lockdown were more likely to be motivated to seek out what they saw as their fair share of an inheritance.

As estate administration can be a slow process, he added, so the height of the pandemic might not yet be reflected by the number of claims.

Mr Woods-Davidson’s firm believes the record-high disputes might only be the tip of the iceberg as social distancing measures are likely to have disrupted succession planning, which may mean even more disputes in the next few years, such as Wills that were signed and witnessed over video that might be easier to challenge in court.

Terry Jones’ children launch legal battle against Will

The children of the late Monty Python star, Terry Jones, have launched a legal battle against his widow over his estate. Terry Jones died in 2020 nine years after marrying Anna Soderstrom, and his children from his first marriage, Bill and Sally, have demanded a bigger share of his estate under the 1975 Inheritance Act.

The Act allows family members to claim for ‘reasonable provision’.

The contents of Terry Jones’ will have not been disclosed but Ms Soderstrom is assumed to be the main beneficiary and she is reportedly listed as the primary defendant. She met the late star at a book signing event in 2005 and the pair married shortly after Terry divorced his first wife, Alison Telfer, the mother of his two children.

He and Anna have their own child, a 12-year-old. He was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia in 2016.

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