One in five people lie about the contents of their will according to new research.
The survey conducted by first4lawyers also reveals that in 74% of cases where people had expected a certain amount to be inherited following conversations with the deceased, the will contained something very different.
Meanwhile, some respondents say the eldest child received the most assets, while in other cases those surveyed reported charities receiving more inheritance than they did.
The figures show the importance of not relying on an inheritance to fund your lifestyle. Instead, look for other ways to boost your income, see our 20 ways to make money in your spare time as a starter. Also, consider investing to boost any savings you have – see our Beginner's guide to investing in the stock market.
Alternatively, if you’re struggling with debts, see our Cut your debts section for help on where to begin.
Challenge an unfair will
Those who truly believe a will is unfair can also challenge it in court – something that 43% of respondents didn’t know they could do.
Chair of the Law Society Wills and Equity Committee, Jane Whitfield, explains: “If you wish to contest or challenge a will there must be a valid reason.”
This could be that the person writing it suffered from “undue influence”, where a person takes advantage of a position of power over them. Another reason could be “lack of testamentary capacity”, where the will writer didn’t have the necessary mental capacity to make a will.
“There are time limits on disputing a will, so it is important that you seek legal advice quickly,” she says. “A solicitor is the best person to advise you on timing, as well as whether there are sufficient grounds to dispute the will, and how likely the claim is to be successful.”
You can find organisations or people providing legal services in England and Wales that are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), using the Law Society’s tool.
‘Everyone should have a will’
If you don’t have a will, you should also think about creating one. Ms Whitfield warns: “Everyone should have a will, but it is even more important if you have children, you own property or have savings, investments, insurance policies or you own a business.
“A will helps to ensure that your assets are divided amongst the family, friends and charities of your choice, and can reduce the amount of inheritance tax you pay. If you die without a will your assets will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules.”
See our 'Why you should write a will article' for more on this, and how to go about it.