Contesting a will.
Losing a loved one is always a difficult time in life so, if the person’s Estate is not going to be divided how their loved one’s thought, it can make their death even more difficult.
Our Probate Solicitors can provide you with advice and guidance throughout this time, to help try and resolve any disputes as efficiently and sympathetically as possible.
In England and Wales, the law recognises that everyone’s Will should reflect their own personal wishes. Therefore, if after someone has died, you think that their Will wasn’t made properly, you may be able to contest it.
The basis for you believing that you want to contest the Will could be that you have not been left any provisions in your loved one’s Will, and you may be left feeling like this is unfair. Perhaps they made you verbal promises about what you would be left when they died, and they haven’t lived up to that promise. Another reason that you may wish to contest your loved one’s Will could be that it favours someone else over you, unfairly.
Our Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors explain under what circumstances you can contest a Will, and what basis your claim would have under the law.
What is contentious probate?
Contentious probate is the term used to refer a dispute about the estate of someone who has passed away. Generally, the dispute will arise when someone has been left out of a Will or an Estate has been distributed incorrectly or not how the person who wants to contest the Will thought it would be.
There are a number of reasons a claim can be brought. For example, a Will could be challenged if there were procedural errors when it was made, if the testator (the person who made the Will) did not have capacity when the document was written and signed, or if the Testator was under pressure or the influence from another person to make the Will in specific terms.
One of the most commonly seen types of claims are those made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. These are often referred to as disappointed beneficiary claims.
Who can bring a claim under the Inheritance Act?
The people who can bring claims under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 are usually only relatives, with the exception of cohabitees, such as:
- The spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
- A former spouse or civil partner (with exceptions, such as if financial matters were concluded when the couple divorced with a Court Order, barring any future claims after the death of either party);
- The deceased’s cohabitant, if they had lived with the deceased for two or more years prior to their death;
- The child or children of the deceased (even if they are now an adult);
- A person who was treated as though they were the deceased’s child;
- Someone who was looked after or “maintained” by the deceased.
What can I make a claim for?
The Court will generally consider the size of the deceased’s Estate, and the nature of the assets that the deceased held. They will also take into account the financial means and needs of the person claiming, compared to the other beneficiaries who are inheriting or should be inheriting.
If the Court considers that the person claiming should receive something from the Estate, they will be able to vary the distribution to make an award to the successful claimant.
If the claimant is a spouse or civil partner, the award will be reasonable in all circumstances. If the claimant is someone else, the award will usually be reasonable financial provision that is required for the maintenance (i.e. to look after) the claimant, as long as the Estate is large enough to accommodate the award.
How long do I have to make a claim?
There is a strict time limit to make any claim against an Estate, which is six months from the date that the Grant of Representation was issued. This time limit can only be extended in exceptional circumstances.
If you think that you should have benefitted from your loved one’s Estate, and you want to discuss making a claim, our team of Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible, as any delays could prevent you from bringing a claim.
How long will my claim take?
The length of time that it takes to contest a Will can depend on a variety of factors; if the claim is finalised without needing to go to Court, it could take a couple of months, whereas if the claim has to proceed to Court to achieve successful resolution, it could take a lot longer.
You should therefore try to start any claim against an Estate as soon as possible so that, a) you do not run out of time to make a claim (they must be started within 6 months, as explained above), and, b) as a claim can take such a long amount of time, the quicker you can start one, the quicker it could be resolved.
Why instruct MG Legal’s Probate Lawyers?
When you are making or defending a claim against an Estate, there are strict and complicated procedures which must be followed. If you are unfamiliar with these procedures, timescales and the Court process, it is essential that you seek legal assistance, such as that of a Probate lawyer, to help make or defend a claim.
At MG Legal, our team of Probate Lawyers understand that it’s important to try and resolve any Estate dispute as quickly as possible, to prevent any unnecessary costs from being occurred, whilst ensuring that the agreement reached is acceptable to our client. Our team of Probate Lawyers provide our clients with jargon-free, clear legal advice. To discuss your claim, contact our expert team online, here, or give us a call at your local office.
How much will the legal fees cost?
Our team are transparent from the start of your matter about what it will cost you, and how these costs need to be paid. During the initial telephone call, our team will provide you with a quote for carrying out the legal work, as well as much information as possible about any additional third-party costs you may incur, such as Court fees.
At MG Legal, we also make the guarantee that, unless your instructions change, our fees never will; if we agree to charge you a fixed-fee, that will be what you pay.