Probate is the process in which a deceased person’s will is proven in a court of law and accepted as a valid document. Under the official Inheritance Act, a person has six months from the date of the Grant of Probate in which to dispute a will. This limited time frame means that it’s crucial to seek professional, legal advice as soon as possible. However, there is no time limit in cases of disputes of probate centred around fraud. Most disputes of probate, however, are due to the dissatisfaction of a family member who may feel they have been treated dishonourably in regards to what they have been allocated in the will.
Here is listed a short guide regarding the contesting of probate and related advice.
When May a Probate be Contested?
An individual can raise a dispute if:
- They consider themselves to have been treated unfairly in a person’s will.
- The deceased did not have mental capacity to understand the legal document they were signing, or were not of a complete sound mind at the time
- The deceased was pressured into signing a document which did not accurately represent their wishes or was coerced into wording the document in a certain way
- The will was drawn up incorrectly
- The copy of the will is fraudulent
- The document is not the original copy
The individual raising the dispute needs to have a direct interest in the will. Namely, they need to fall into one of the following categories:
- They need to be a relative or beneficiary
- They are owed money by the deceased’s estate
- They have previously been promised by the deceased to have a share of assets
- They are financial dependents, such as a child born out of marriage or the unmarried partner of the deceased.
How is a Probate Contested?
It’s important to seek the best legal council for advice if you’re considering contesting probate, or if you are involved in a dispute claim. Your solicitor will give you advice regarding how probate will be contested, and how to proceed. They will also be able to advise whether you have the grounds to contest probate.
In cases where a will dispute is ongoing, but probate has not yet been granted, your solicitor has the option to put a caveat on the estate. This is a lawful notice meaning that probate is prevented and works to minimise the risks involved in the relevant estate and assets thereof. This notice is active for six months, but there is an option to apply for an extension.
Contesting process is a difficult process, which won’t be resolved quickly. The friction of the situation is heightened if the contesting involves a serious disagreement between family members, especially during a time when the family is suffering the loss of a loved one.
It is possible to settle a probate dispute amicably outside of court, if this is an option that is feasible for your situation.
Contact The Inheritance Experts solicitors for advice today. They are fully trained to contest probate as efficiently as possible, and deal with the sensitive matter in a delicate way, maintaining the relationships of all individuals.