CLAIMING AGAINST AN ESTATE
If you consider that the terms of a Will are unfair or even that the Will itself may be invalid, we can assist by providing you with specialist advice on how a Will or the terms of it can be challenged.
If you’re unhappy with the terms of a Will, you may be able (in certain circumstances) to make a claim against the Estate. If you think the Will itself could be invalid, then it may be possible to dispute the validity of the Will.
Making a claim against an Estate
If a person’s Will is valid, but you consider that the terms of it are unfair (as you may have been left out, or not have received reasonable financial provision) it may be possible for a claim to be made against the Estate for ‘reasonable provision’.
Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family Dependants) Act 1975, certain categories of individuals are entitled to make a claim against an Estate. These categories include (but are not limited to) a spouse, civil partner, cohabitee, dependant or child of the person who has died. They also include former spouses and children of the family who have been treated as a child of the deceased and who were being supported by the deceased when they died.
When the court looks at your claim, it will consider many different factors, including your age, family and financial situation, relationship with the deceased, financial needs, disabilities and so on.
Normally a claim has to be settled or proceedings issued within six months of the grant of probate. Although there are some exceptions, such a tight timeframe means that time can often be an important factor when deciding whether or not to make a claim.
We can guide you through the process of making a claim, explaining your options and dealing with the administrators of the Estate on your behalf.
Disputing a Will or Trust
If you believe that the Will itself is invalid, because it fails to meet the requirements or because of the mental capacity of the testator, it is possible to ask the court to rule that it is invalid or that an older Will should preside.
There are several possible grounds for disputing the validity a Will. For example, you might believe that it wasn’t constructed properly, that the person didn’t know what they were doing, that pressure had been placed on the deceased or that a divorce or remarriage has made the will invalid.
You can also dispute the validity of a will if the formalities weren’t complied with – for example, if two people didn’t witness the Will being signed.
In addition to disputing the validity of the Will, it is also possible to dispute the manner in which the Estate is being administered, or whether an Executor or Trustee is suitable. If you believe that errors have occurred in the administration, or that someone appointed is no longer suitable but they refuse to stand down from their position, we can assist with challenging their appointment.
If you dispute a Will, the burden of proof is on the person who alleges the invalidity as the law presumes that the Will is valid. It is therefore for the objector to the Will to prove that it’s not. This is not a simple task, and most cases usually require the consideration of the court, unless agreement can be reached with the other beneficiaries by way of a Deed of Variation. If the Will is successfully challenged, the terms of an earlier Will can apply, or the court can determine a distribution.
We can help you dispute the terms of a Will if you feel that you have been unfairly excluded, or the validity of a Will if that is in question. We can also represent the Beneficiaries and Executors who are facing a challenge to a Will and who believe that the terms of the Will should stand.
In addition to advice and assistance we are also able to offer help with mediation between Beneficiaries (as to the distribution of chattels) or when Executors/family members disagree as to the implementation of the deceased’s wishes. We have meeting rooms at our offices where discussions can be held on ‘neutral ground’, and our professional and expert solicitors can act as mediators.
We consider ourselves as specialists in this area and completely appreciate that disputes regarding probate issues are difficult and sensitive. Our experience allows us to provide the parties to a dispute with straightforward advice on what a claim involves, what the possible outcome may be and whether the benefits of bringing court proceedings are worthwhile in terms of what is the value of the Estate.
If a resolution cannot be found and the matter should have to redress to the courts, then we’ll be there to support you throughout the process and ensure that suitable representation is provided.
Experts in disputing Wills
Our Head of Dispute Resolution, Helen Townsend, is one of a select group of lawyers who has qualified through the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists.
She has 10 years of experience with contentious probate and is supported by a skilled, professional team who can manage your claim through to resolution.
Get in touch
If you want to make a claim or dispute a will, please get in touch.
We offer a first hour of advice for a fixed fee, so you can discuss your situation and get some useful advice without making a big commitment.
OUR EXPERIENCE ALLOWS US TO PROVIDE THE PARTIES TO A DISPUTE WITH STRAIGHTFORWARD ADVICE ON WHAT A CLAIM INVOLVES
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