Will Dispute Update – Charity Focus
It is increasingly common for Wills to leave legacies to charities and, as a consequence, our charity clients are, with increasing regularity, finding themselves involved in Will disputes.
The types of Will dispute that a charity may find itself facing can range from someone challenging the validity of the Will under which they benefit to claims by members of the deceased’s family or from other people, for example dependants, that the Will does not make reasonable financial provision for them.
The starting point for any charity involved in such a Will dispute is that the trustees have a duty to protect the charity’s assets, which will include a legacy left to it under a Will.
However, in practise, a charity’s response will be highly influenced by the value of its entitlement under the Will and the legal merits of the claim being asserted.
Accordingly, a charity finding itself in this situation should seek specialist legal advice at the outset in order that an early decision can be taken as to how to respond to the claim based upon the strength of its legal position and the commercial issues involved. This includes not just the value of the legacy compared to the legal costs that will be incurred, but also a consideration of the possibility of any reputational damage to the charity.