Contesting legacies – Warning for Charities

October 29, 2014

Probate litigation involving charities has nearly doubled in recent years. Gone are the days of people feeling embarrassed or ashamed about challenging a deceased loved one’s will. Society’s increased awareness of probate disputes have contributed to this no longer being a taboo subject.

People believe that charities will often want to avoid negative publicity and press coverage, preferring to negotiate a settlement behind closed doors before the matter reaches the public forum of a court hearing. For that reason alone, an increasing number of disappointed beneficiaries will challenge legacies to charities even where their potential claim has very little merit. There may be a view that charities are an “easy target” and a less acrimonious option than engaging in battle with another family member. The thought process being that severing ties with a relative may cause far more emotional turmoil to an individual than arguing with a remote charity.

So for any charity coming face to face with a potential challenge to their legacy, make sure you fully investigate the facts to determine whether the claim has merit or not. While it is preferred that litigation is avoided, it is worth noting that charity trustees have a duty to protect legacy income, it is important that they ensure, so far as possible, that it is not diminished by unmeritorious claims of opportunistic individuals.

Please note; the content of this article is for information purposes only and further advice should be sought from a professional legal advisor before any action is taken.

Please contact Cleaver Fulton Rankin on 028 9024 3141 or alternatively visit