The most common contentious probate claims that we see are disputes based on the will not being valid or claims where a person feels that they have not been adequately provided for.
Contesting the validity of a will
Wills can be challenged on various grounds, including:
Undue influence – for example, the deceased was put under pressure when making the will.
Lack of mental (testamentary) capacity – for example, if the deceased was suffering from dementia when they signed the will.
Lack of knowledge/approval – for example, if they were not aware that changes were being made to the will
Invalid execution – for example, if the will was not signed correctly.
Fraud – for example, if the deceased’s signature has been forged.
It is important to note that the will cannot be challenged because it is deemed to be ‘unfair’ by one party. Under English law, a person is free to leave their estate to whomever they wish as long as they have capacity and the will has been executed correctly.
However, in certain circumstances, some people who were financially dependent on the deceased may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975.
Defending a contested will
We also offer advice to executors and beneficiaries when a will has been challenged. We will assess the claim and provide advice on the likelihood of success in defending the claim. We will also provide advice and guidance on how to negotiate a settlement, if appropriate.
How our inheritance act claims solicitors can help you:
Meet with you to discuss your matter and let you know if you have a strong case and talk you through all of the available options
Guide you through each step, whether you are making or defending a claim
Make sure your application is submitted within the time limit.
Try, where possible, to make sure disputes are resolved by negotiation and mediation rather than by incurring the cost of going to court.
Yes, mediation is a good option for resolving disputes concerning wills and inheritance. It is a collaborative process that can help families avoid the additional strain and conflict of going to court, while also preserving family relationships.
What is the cost of contesting a will?
Contesting a will can be costly, so it is important to weigh the risks and benefits before doing so. The court typically decides who pays the costs, but the losing party is usually responsible for paying the winning party’s costs. There are a few exceptions, such as if the person who made the will or the people who inherit from the estate caused the legal challenge.
Who can challenge a will?
Anyone can challenge the validity of a will, but it is usually people who were close to the deceased. If the will is invalidated, the court will decide how to distribute the estate. If there is a previous valid will, the court will normally follow that. If there is no previous valid will, the estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, which means that only family members will inherit. If there are no surviving family members, the estate will go to the government.
Can a will be overturned after probate?
Yes, a Will can be contested even after probate has been granted. However, there is a time limit of six months from the date the Grant of Probate is issued for someone to contest the Will. Any claims made after this six-month period are unlikely to succeed.
Our probate solicitors are equipped to help you deal with all manner of issues following the death of a person close to you. From Inheritance Act claims to will contesting and contentious probate disputes, we’re here to help you do your best out of these difficult situations.
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