Inheritance Act Claims: Who Can Make Them?

There have been many government provisions for England and Wales that enable people to make Inheritance Act Claims. To bring a claim, a grant of probate means that only certain parties will fit within the circumstances of the case for compensation.

Below, we list some of the leading laws governing inheritance provision for the family. We’ll then turn briefly to who specifically can make a claim under the inheritance laws.

Critical Inheritance Acts Over The Years

Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

This is the coup de graçe of all provisions regarding inheritance rights and claims. It attaches not just monetary assets as provisions of the deceased’s estate, but also any property and holdings.

Moreover, this can even include holdings disposed of in the six years prior to death.

Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938

The 1975 act is an update of the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938. The 1938 version effectively establishes persons that can apply to the court for financial provision. In essence, the Act states the following.

Without overruling the terms of the will, it gave the surviving spouse and the dependent children the right to apply to the court for maintenance out of a deceased person’s estate.

Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014

Time coupled with changing mores brought the law’s appreciation for modern family structures. The 2014 Act addresses matters equalising the rights of both a spouse/civil partner of the deceased to make a claim. It also tackles what had been more absolute rights of the spouse to the first £270,000 of an estate plus personal belongings.

Additionally, a child of the deceased gains additional rights to financial resources as a beneficiary of the estate. Now, the child does not need to enter into the parent/child relationship as a result of marriage.

Administration of Estates Act 1925

From the 1925 Act came many of the succeeding acts and amendments to modernise the law, too. Personal property (aka “Chattels real”) was finally coupled with real estate in the estate’s size and nature.

Here’s a relevant side note: This law repeals up to 12 different acts regarding estate circulation.

Who Can Make Inheritance Act Claims By Law?

According to the Inheritance Act 1975, certain people can offer claims according to their own personal obligations and responsibilities. These people are:

  • A spouse/civil partner of the deceased.
  • A former spouse/civil partner.
  • Children of the deceased, including children or adoption or those reasonably brought into a family.
  • Financial dependants of the deceased.
  • In certain cases, cohabitees, who nevertheless must meet certain criteria.

From spouses to children, many financial dependents can make inheritance act claims against a will

How Courts Review Inheritance Act Claims

In many circumstances, claims under The Inheritance Act can be resolved by mediation. Working together with all parties, you may not have to go to court.

That said, it’s not always true that your claim will avoid the court system. Accordingly, one question we often receive is about the procedure for inheritance act claims.

Basically, when someone makes these claims, there are several factors (aka Section 3 Factors) the court will weigh and judge.

  • First off, the court considers the claimant’s financial needs in both the present and foreseeable future.
  • Next, the court weighs the financial needs that any other claimant might have.
  • Additionally, they’ll look at the financial needs of any beneficiary of the estate.
  • Specifically, any financial obligations the late party had to any claimant/beneficiary under The Inheritance Act.
  • Another considerable factor is the size and nature of the estate left behind.
  • Not to mention, any eligible claimant/beneficiary who has a physical or mental disability.
  • Some other matters can become relevant. These include any so-called relevant behaviour(s) and conduct of the claimant or any other person.

Is There A Time Limit On Making Inheritance Act Claims?

Specifically, you have six months after the Grant of Representation (i.e. Grant of Probate) to make an Inheritance Act Claim.

Uniquely, it’s not out of the question that when this limit expires you cannot make a claim. First, you need to contact the court, who furthermore must grant your right to make such a claim. Of course, it’s much easier to stay within the half-year window and remove all doubt.

Speak With The Inheritance Experts

Speak today with one of our inheritance experts: we can help you build a solid inheritance act claims case. We can even help if you are an executor who is managing an estate under contest. Similarly, we understand Inheritance Tax and other financial affairs associated with the estate. For more on contesting a will and Inheritance Act claims, read about:

The Process of Contesting a Will: Some Key Points

The process of contesting a will in England and Wales demands that you take several things into account. Namely, you need to take stock at the early stages to understand if the will is valid legally.

You’ll also need to check your own capabilities in handling potentially contentious probate. It won’t be easy with siblings, children, loved ones and all other parties added into the process. Furthermore, you’ll get into the weeds of some rather difficult issues.

  • Checking medical records of others (including the deceased party).
  • Investigating potential actions of undue influence.
  • Alternatively, understanding of what life looks like as a losing party after contesting a will.

Admittedly we have some bias on the matter of what kind of solicitors you should turn to. However, a no-win, no fee Inheritance Experts solicitor specialising in probate registry challenges definitely helps. Below, we’ll walk through elements of the process of contesting a will.

The importance of The Inheritance Act of 1975

For the sake of clarity, the above law’s long name is the Inheritance Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975. In short, the Act is one of the most important legal documents pertaining to the process. The main thrust: stipulating the validity of a person to bring a claim against an estate.

Notably, as The Gazette puts it in challenging the myths of this law:

“the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 makes provision for a court to alter the distribution of the estate of a deceased person. …To any spouse, former spouse, child, child of the family or dependant of that person. …In cases where the deceased person’s will or the rules of intestacy fail to make ‘reasonable financial provision’.”

If the process goes forth, a claimant alleges the will didn’t make a reasonable financial provision for them. More recently, amendments to the law now account for the rights of civil partners in the process.

So who can undertake the process of contesting a will?

To summarise who has access to make a claim, take note of the following categories below.

  1. Firstly, direct family members, including children or grandchildren.
  2. Secondly, a spouse or civil partner can challenge a will.
  3. Any beneficiaries (for this to occur, a previous will must specifically name the beneficiary in question).
  4. Any person reliant on the deceased financially.
  5. A person who expects an item by the late party, but the stipulation doesn’t show up in the will.
  6. There’s also the matter that any creditor that the late party still owes money to is part of the process.

Essentially, being part of the family, being an ongoing beneficiary, or even a friend clearly helps your case.

The Process of Contesting a Will is considerable

What parameters allow you to enter the process of contesting a will?

Here, we’re going to address the four parameters you must meet before you contest a will.

  • Firstly, you need to have the legal right to contest the will.
  • Secondly, you must have a valid reason or sufficient grounds for contesting the will.
  • Third, you’ve made this contesting of the will before the time limit has run out.
  • Finally, you must raise sufficient evidence that supports your claim.

Which begs the question: have you met any of these requirements? If so, contact our inheritance specialists as soon as possible. In turn, you can make a challenge before the grant of probate. Probate, remember, means that the will has been proven to be valid.

Some of you will surely ask, What about contesting a will after probate? Yes: it can, and we address it on our Contesting a Will page.

How a solicitor helps you in the process of contesting a will

Your solicitor will work with you so that you understand all areas of the law.

One of the first steps to doing this is to apply for a copy of the death certificate. With that, you’ll have critical legal document information like name and last permanent address for the deceased.

Your solicitor will work with you to build up a strong case in your favour. The process will then move to mediation, and, beyond that, the court system.

What legal grounds allow you to contest a will?

The readers of our blog will note that we’ve written previously in Do I Have the Legal Right to Dispute a Will? Below, we share several legal grounds for contesting a will.

No valid execution of the will

If certain formalities are not met, a will may become invalid. Some include:

  • It needs to be in writing (typed or handwritten)
  • Additionally, it has the signature of one of two parties.
    • Ideally, the testator his or herself, although this may not always be possible.
    • Alternatively, another person signs the will in the testator’s presence (complete with his/her direction).
  • Moreover, when the testator signs the will, they truly want it to take effect.
  • Ultimately, these actions occur in the presence of a minimum of two witnesses.*

No knowledge or approval of the will

This reinforces the above scenario about the need for multiple witnesses.

Undue influence

Accordingly, you can challenge the will over undue influence. The fact is, some parties may exert undue influence over a vulnerable testator. If they’re not sound of mind, this can be an especially sensible set of grounds for a challenge.

Revocation

Intention is critical when ruling for revocation of the will.

Effectively, a will is invalid if the destruction of the will occurs. There are two key factors in proving this with your challenge.

  • First, either the testator or someone in their presence and at their direction destroys the will.
  • Additionally, those above parties – in destroying the will – do so in order to revoke the will.

Lack of testamentary capacity

Effectively, this means the will was created and/or amended when the testator was not of sound mind or mental capacity. The issue often arises in cases where Alzheimer’s Disease becomes a factor for the testator. Such a will could be subject to unintended influence.

Above all, it’s critical that you have the evidence to prove a lack of testamentary capacity.

If you seek legal advice to challenge a will, contact The Inheritance Experts today.

More about Will disputes

We offer a wealth of insights here on this blog regarding will disputes and inheritance challenges.

*Additionally, the will must be both signed and witnessed by those parties.

Key Terms to Know For a Family Dispute Over Will

A family dispute over wills exacerbates what’s already a difficult period of time for any family. Throw the struggle amongst siblings and extended family members over the legitimacy of a legal document aside. Above all, there’s the added pressure of the loss of a valued loved one. 

In time, you’ve got a recipe for family business disaster. Just tack on a few ingredients: 

  • First off: money.
  • Then add on real estate.
  • Not to mention the additional non-family parties involved in probate.
  • Some sibling disputes always give the recipe a bit of zest.
  • Finally, the intricacies of a blended family (where applicable).

So there are some questions you’ll undoubtedly have about the process of disputing a will. The one we aim to answer below is “What language are these lawyers speaking?”

Family Dispute Over Will Terminology Guidance

In this piece, our goal is to lay out the key players and common vocabulary involved in a will dispute. The Inheritance Experts know the subject inside and out. So treat this post as an A-to-Z guide of definitions for the personnel and terms involved in any probate.

PERSONNEL

Administrator / Estate executors

These are different, but they have relatively similar roles at the end of the day.

If no will exists or the will does not name an executor, an administrator will be appointed.

If a will does exist and such a person is appointed to administer the will’s intentions, that person is an estate executor(s). By designation, this person or these people are declared in the will by the deceased as the party best equipped to carry out the wishes of the deceased person.

An estate executor presents the will for probate to a judge. By law, funds and assets are frozen from disbursement amongst beneficiaries until a probate judge approves it.

Beneficiaries

This is the common area where sibling rivalry comes into play. In general, a beneficiary is any party or person in the will who becomes a recipient of assets or monies within the estate plan. 

Please note that this can include matters of sentimental (as opposed to monetary) value. For instance, assets such as a pet, figurine, rose bush or toy can fall into the designation of sentimental value.

As you can imagine, some beneficiaries aren’t going to be satisfied.

Discretionary beneficiaries

These are individuals or entities that a grantor names in a trust, life insurance policy, or retirement plan. What makes them different from regular beneficiaries is that they have no legal proprietary interest.

Estate Planning Attorney or Personal Representative

This is a specialist solicitor whose expertise lies in advising clients in planning their estate. As a result, these lawyers know the laws and intricacies surrounding the creation of a will.

Guardian

A guardian is a person who can look after the interests of a child in estate matters. In Scotland, the age constituting the need for a guardian is 16; elsewhere in the UK, children are under 18 years old.

Trustee

If a certain beneficiary is unable to hold property yet, a trustee will do it for them until they are permitted. Furthermore, the trustee is responsible for administering the trust assets.

Family Dispute Over Wills can get contentious - it helps to know the terminology and principles involved.

With a family dispute over wills, things can get contentious. So it helps to know the terminology and principles involved.

PROCEDURAL TERMS

In the process of handling the family dispute over wills, there’s certain common vocabulary you’ll need to be aware of.

Assets

Assets, in short, consist of property owned by the person who died. These include a house, household goods, savings or investments. 

Bequest & Chargeable Gift

A bequest covers gifts disseminated in the will.

Chargeable gifts are similar but are so valuable as to require payment of an inheritance tax.

Codicil

This is a document that has the power to amend (but to be clear, does not necessarily replace) a will. Because a codicil has the power to adversely affect a will, a re-write tends to be the more common course of action.

Grant of Probate

A grant of probate is an official legal document from the Court confirming that the will’s executor has the authority to act. In turn, this document validates a will and makes the distribution of the assets possible.

  • In Scotland, this document is a Confirmation of the Estate.

Inheritance tax

This is the tax monies payable when an estate exceeds the current inheritance threshold. As of 2020, this amount includes estates at or above £325,000.

Intestate

In short, an estate becomes intestate when the person dies and they don’t subsequently leave a legally valid will.

Legacy

A legacy applies to a specific gift or cash item left in a will (the rose bushes, for instance). Any property, however, cannot be a legacy gift.

  • A gift of money is a Pecuniary legacy.
  • When the legacy is a specific gift or object, it’s a Specific legacy.

Residue

This is a term that addresses the remaining balance of the estate after all payments have been made. In essence, these payments include funeral expenses, debts, legacies and any other taxes.

  • The party who is receiving the residue balance is a Residuary beneficiary.

About the Inheritance Experts and a Family Dispute Over Will

This post is part of our ongoing series covering issues about contesting a will and securing your inheritance. Our goal is to keep you informed on the latest issues and risks involved with disputing wills and probates.

Explaining Probate

Explaining the Probate Application

When a person dies, it is required by law that all of their personal affairs must be put in order. This is known as ‘Probate’ and includes ensuring that their estate has been finalised. The person who finalises their estate is known as their Executor. However, the executor only has the right to access the deceased’s estate once they apply.

In this guide, we will explain what probate is, what the purpose of it is, how long the probate process typically takes in the UK and why probate is necessary following the death of a loved one.

What is Probate? Why is it necessary?

Probate (also known as ‘Confirmation’ in Scotland) is the legal process of executing a will and settling a deceased’s estate.

It is important to know that the term ‘estate’ does not simply refer to any property the deceased owned, but also includes their possessions, their cash holdings and any land they may have owned, as well as any financial obligations they had, including the repayment of loans, child maintenance and the like.

The purpose of probate is to give the executor the legal right to handle the deceased’s estate and to make executive decisions on their behalf. They are also known as Personal Representatives.

What Does Probate Do?

Probate allows the personal representative to do any of the following:

  1. Finalise all bills and close the deceased’s accounts
  2. Settle unpaid debts
  3. Sell or transfer property owned by the deceased
  4. Liquidate or gather assets in all their forms
  5. Calculate and pay the Inheritance Tax
  6. Pay any remaining income tax if applicable
  7. Distribute the estate as outlined by the will or by the government

Who Can Apply?

Probate is often applied for by the person named as the Executor in the will left behind by the deceased. However, if the Executor has died, an Executor hadn’t been named in the will or there was no will, the following people can apply for probate instead:

  1. The deceased’s spouse. This can be done regardless of if the couple were separated at the time of death
  2. Children of the deceased
  3. Other close family members

If you believe the person who has applied for probate is not fit for the role, you can contest it. You can also contest a will if you have a valid reason, but this should be done with the advice and aid of specialist solicitors. You should be aware though that, if you contest a will and take it to court without a reasonable chance of winning, there is a good chance you will be wholly liable for the cost of taking such action, including the costs of the other side and the court costs.

Applying for Probate

The person who has right to apply for probate (those named the executor or a close living relative) can apply online through the government website, or can hire solicitors to do so on their behalf. If there is no will, the process is similar, but instead of probate, you would instead apply for what are known as Letters of Administration.

When you apply, you will need the following information to send in either online or through post:

  1. The original Will
  2. The original Death Certificate or Interim Death Certificate
  3. An estimate of the estate’s value

You will also need to fill out a few forms. Which forms will depend on where the deceased lived in the UK. For example, if they lived in England or Wales, you will need to fill out the PA1P application if they had a will, or the PA1A application if they did not. In Scotland, these forms are known as C1 and C5.

Once you have applied, you will need to send the original documents to the local Probate Registry, along with a fee of £215 if the estate’s estimated worth is greater than £5000. If it is under £5000, there is no fee.

When is Probate Not Necessary?

Probate isn’t necessary when all of the deceased’s assets are in a joint account with their living spouse. Probate is also not necessary if the estate left behind is nominal, or the deceased did not have any assets to speak of.

How we can help

As always, legal matters that occur when applying for probate and executing a will are best done with the help of solicitors.

At The Inheritance Experts, we work with law firms who specialise in handling wills and probate. This means they are well-placed to help you through all stages of the process.

If you need any help navigating probate, do not hesitate to get in touch with The Inheritance Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

Three Legitimate Will Disputes

The majority of wills and estates receive proper managerial touch and execution. In essence, wills (according to the law) stipulate exactly what the late party wants to happen to the various parts of their estate. However, legitimate will disputes are a reality of handing out the contents of an estate.

Accordingly, a will can be improper occasionally. Alternatively, reasonable suspicions could occur alleging legitimate will disputes.

  • For instance, someone may face accusations of tampering with the will.
  • Also, the will is allegedly not legitimate.
  • Possibly, the deceased dealt with pressure to write the will in a certain unfair manner to their beneficiaries.

Therefore, there can be a number of legitimate will disputes. It is also worth remembering that, in the majority of cases, there is a six-month period where any disputes must be filed, although there are different timescales depending on your reasons for disputing a will.

In this guide, we will outline three of the main reasons why a will dispute may occur.

Legitimate Will Disputes

1. An invalid will

There are strict guidelines in place that cover the legal and procedural requirements of a legally binding will. One of the more common will dispute cases stem from claimants who believe that the will is invalid.

Reasons why a will can be invalid include:

If you want to dispute the validity of a will, you must provide evidence to support the claim. Regarding testamentary capacity, it’s up to the estate executors to establish the testator’s mental capacity. If the will is declared invalid, then the rules of intestacy take effect.

2. Claims of dependency

The Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975 covers those instances where a dependent has not received sufficient provisions in the will. For instance, consider if the testator was providing for someone financially up until their death. In that situation, it’s possible to claim that this financial providence must continue after they have died.

In most dependency claims, the claimant is a spouse, a child, a cohabitee or a close family member or friend. Courts will consider several factors.

  • Firstly, the age of dependents.
  • Next, the duration and nature of the relationship with the deceased
  • Finally, their expected quality of life if the testator were still alive.

Courts may then award a lump sum or a series of maintenance payments.

3. Additional legitimate will disputes

If the above factors are not relevant, a will can still be changed if a claimant believes that an original will has been lost, or if property and finances have been disputed by another potential owner. These instances will require the claimant to provide evidence to start their claim.

How we can help

It is essential that you seek legal representation from a solicitor who specialises in will disputes as early as possible. Because time limits apply (depending on the type of dispute that you wish to make), the earlier that you begin the process, the more likely that you avoid unnecessary complications to the process.

At The Inheritance Experts, we work with specialist law firms who have a proven track record in helping people when they want to dispute a loved one’s will. This means they are well-placed to help you get the proportion of the estate you are entitled to.

If you believe you have grounds to contest a will and want to know if you have a realistic claim, do not hesitate to get in touch with The Inheritance Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

A Guide To Handling a Trust Dispute

When a family member passes away, it’s a hard time for everyone who knows and loves them. It can make it difficult to deal with the legal side of things, specifically executing their will and the potential of a trust having been left. A trust dispute, for instance, is a particularly difficult piece to deal with.

If a trust is in place and you dispute how the trust has been set up or the distribution of your loved one’s assets, we can help.

This guide will give you the information you need to help settle the trust dispute in the right way. Moreover, you can make sure the result is what your family member wants.

What a trust dispute is

Death is not something you will hopefully face regularly. Accordingly, that means you won’t know all the legal jargon surrounding the leaving of an estate through a will. To begin with, you need to know exactly what a trust is.

A trust is when the testator leaves some of their estates to a trustee. In turn, the trustee ensures that it then goes over to a third party. Known as ‘the benefactor’, they take charge at the appropriate time. This is often the case when money or assets go to someone under the age of 18; in essence, safeguarding their inheritance.

What are the grounds to start a trust dispute?

There are many reasons why a trust could be up for dispute. These include:

  • Administration or running of the trust;
  • The value of the assets;
  • The interpretation of the trust, and;
  • Difficult trustees or feuding beneficiaries.

The above are the most common problems you will encounter but are not the only ones. Being aware of the issues particular to your circumstances that could arise from the start help. In short, it will hopefully mean you can see potential problems further up the road and take evasive action.

How do you resolve a trust dispute?

The most effective way to resolve issues is to

  • seek out legal advice and;
  • should it come to it, representation from legal professionals who specialise in inheritance law.

Trust dispute solicitors are experts in the field and can help you with the process of handling a trust dispute.

It is important that you get professional legal support. You need to make sure that the assets left behind by the testator distribute fairly and to the right people.

With money clouding the matter, some people only have their own interests at heart. That’s true even in the aftermath of a death, and this can lead to dispute. Trust disputes can be confusing and distressing, so the best thing you can do is to act quickly. In short, you need to ensure you are doing right by your family member’s wishes.

How we can help

At The Inheritance Experts, we work with specialist law firms who are experts in helping people to resolve trust disputes. This means they are also competent enough to help you and ensure you receive fair treatment on the terms of a trust.

If you believe you have grounds to dispute a trust your loved one put in place and want to know if you have a realistic claim, do not hesitate to get in touch with The Inheritance Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

How to Proceed if Your Loved One Didn’t Leave a Will

How to Proceed if Your Loved One Didn’t Leave a Will

In most cases when a family member dies, they leave their wishes on how to divide up their estate in a will. When they don’t leave a will, however, intestacy rules take over.

This will should also contain who they name as their executor. The executor will then need to apply to begin the process of Probate from the Government. With that, they have the right to settle the testator’s affairs and execute their will to the best of their ability.

Intestacy means no will to execute

However, if there’s no will to execute (known as ‘dying intestate’), then the process faces complications. Loved ones might have inheritance disputes, at which time hiring contested wills and probate solicitors can help you receive what you deserve from your loved one’s estate.

What Does it Mean if Your Loved One Didn’t Leave a Will

In short, if a family member doesn’t leave a will to dictate the affairs of their estate, the legal system takes over.

(On this, it’s also worth noting that the rules on intestacy changed at the start of February 2020).

This can, at times, mean that those that the deceased would not have wanted to receive anything from their estate will do.

It is also worth remembering that the laws as to who will receive the estate of someone who died intestate differ between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You will need to contact a solicitor to see if you have grounds for contesting a will as laid out by the law in the country you live in. If the testator lives in a different country from the UK though, the intestacy laws of that country will apply.

What Steps Should You Take for Intestacy

If the testator dies part of intestacy, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Apply to be the administrator or executor of the testator’s estate. This is the same as applying for Probate, except you will need to fill out a different form when applying.
  2. You will need to prove a close relationship, for example, a spouse or child.
  3. If your application is accepted, you will receive what is known as “letters of administration”. These will give you the right to deal with the testator’s estate.

There must be a legal connection between the deceased and the person who becomes their administrator. For instance, think of a partner who lives with the testator for decades, but doesn’t marry them. That partner doesn’t have the right, for example.

However, a separate spouse still wed to the testator does. This is arguably an area of the law that needs updating in order to reflect today’s society and modern relationships.

If you are a long-term partner of the testator, contact a specialist solicitor. Accordingly, you can then fight the ruling and make a valid claim towards your dependency.

What Happens if There Are No Close Living Relatives?

If the testator does not have a spouse or direct relatives, then their estate will belong to the Crown or government. This is done under the law Bona Vacantia.

How we can help

At The Inheritance Experts, we work with specialist law firms. They have a proven track record helping people when a family member dies intestate. As a result, they’re capable of helping you get the proportion of the estate you rightfully deserve.

Do you think you have grounds to contest a will? Do you want to know if you have a realistic claim? Then don’t hesitate to get in touch with The Inheritance Experts. Be sure to do so via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

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Who Has Contesting a Will Rights?

If you are considering your contesting a Will rights, it is important to make sure that you are legally allowed to raise a dispute.

One of the main criteria for deciding if a person is entitled to contest a will is whether or not they belong to one of six defined groups that are considered to have the legal right to challenge a will or probate process.

In this guide, we will outline these six groups, along with some of the complex rules that define each group.

Family members

Whether you are related by marriage or by blood will play a factor in determining your right to contest a will. Those family members that are blood relations are in the Inheritance Act, together with a specific list that names relatives that can make a claim for declaring a will invalid.

Even if you aren’t a blood relative, your relationship with the testator will be taken into account. Moreover, you do have legal protection in those cases as well.

Understand contesting a Will rights in England or Wales? Learn more

Beneficiaries of contesting a Will Rights

As a beneficiary in a will, you have a legal entitlement to inherit your piece of the will. Consider two things that the executors of the will might not do.

  • First: what if they don’t pay you the sum the testator left to you?
  • Additionally, what if they don’t hand over any items the testator left to you in the will?

You’d have grounds to make a claim. This way, you ensure that you receive exactly what you deserve. By not executing the testator’s wishes as to the will states, it would be the case that the executor is acting unreasonably in their legal duties.

Furthermore, as a beneficiary, you can also dispute the division of the rest of the will. Especially if you consider the division of the deceased’s estate to be unreasonable.  It is worth remembering that, when considering a will, the ‘estate’ is not just property, but also entails the whole lot. All of the testator’s possessions, cash holdings, savings accounts or investments, and even the land they own.

Therefore, consider if you were in business with the testator as an equal partner. Next, the other business partners receive a greater share of the business than you were. Accordingly, you may feel that this is unfair and want to contest this.

Beneficiaries of earlier wills

As new people come into their lives, people do change their wills and will add these new people in. As a result, people previously in a will may be subject to removal. For example, if a person divorces and then remarries. It’s understandable that they would remove their ex-spouse from their will and replace them with their new spouse.

However, if you’re in an earlier version of a will but not the recent version, you can dispute the will. But only if you can prove that there is a valid reason why you should still be a beneficiary.

For example, say your ex-spouse pays you child maintenance to support the child(ren) you had together. But then the spouse dies, leaving you nothing in the will to help with the upbringing of your child(ren). Then it would be understandable that would want to contest their will.

With this example, any money or other part of their estate your ex-spouse leaves to your child(ren) belongs to them. Most likely, it goes into a trust until they reach adulthood. This money is not for you to use to raise them. You would need to make a separate application for the will to provide continued child maintenance payments.

In addition, this group could at times raise a dispute that causes a criminal investigation to commence.*

Creditors and contesting a Will rights

If you are someone the testator owes money to, you can claim this debt from the testator’s estate. If this is you, you should first try to have what is known as a Section 27 notice sent out. This can be a providence to help those the testator owes money to.

Broken Promises

Among contesting a will rights, this is a particularly major one.

Say you were relying on inheritance for your future that the testator says you’ll receive. As a result, you may be able to challenge that person’s will if they don’t follow through on that promise. You should know that this can be a complex area to dispute though. Therefore, seeking legal advice as early as possible is smart.

You’ll need to prove the promise was made, and that you’re suffering as a result of the promise being broken.

Financial dependents

Even if you are not related to the deceased, you may be able to to make a claim to their part of their estate if it can be shown that you were financially dependent upon the deceased, whether this was monetary or in the form of accommodation.

This group has protection under the Inheritance Act, so you will normally need to make this claim within six months of the probate date.

How we can help with contesting a will

If you fall under any of these categories, there is a chance that you may be able to successfully contest a will.

However, it’s essential that you take appropriate advice before contesting the will.

This is where The Inheritance Experts come in. Following your free, no-obligation discussion with us, we will transfer you to a specialist solicitor. Your solicitor is keen to challenge the will or probate process on your behalf given the circumstances of your claim. In turn, it helps you to get the share of the estate that you deserve.

If you are contesting a will you have not been named in or which you feel is unfair, do not hesitate to contact us via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

*Particularly if it can be shown that they have been taken out of a will due to fraud or a person wielding undue influence on the testator. Especially when they were not in a fit state to be making decisions about amendments to their will.

How to Contest a Will

If you are considering contesting the will of a relative, it is vital that you are aware of the processes before you start to contest it. That’s true whether you believe that

  • the will is unfair;
  • it isn’t legally valid, or;
  • the testator suffers from undue pressure into making certain people beneficiaries.

This guide will help you to navigate the often complex world of contesting probate.

Contesting a will or contesting the process of probate when a will is valid can only be done by certain people. These people include the testator’s

  • living relatives;
  • those who were a beneficiary in a previous will, and;
  • those with significant reason to believe they’re a beneficiary in the latest will. For instance, if a promise has been made to the person by the deceased.

In addition, a contest of probate must also fall under one of a few categories. These categories include:

It is also important to remember that the time limits for contesting probate are strict. Therefore, you should make sure that you contest the will or the probate process within six months in some cases. However, in some circumstances, there is no time limit as to when you can contest the will.

How to Contest a Will

Contacting a specialist solicitor

If you are considering contesting a will, it is important to find out whether you have a viable claim. This is where The inheritance Experts come in – one of our advisors will speak to you on a free, no-obligation basis and will advise you whether you have a valid claim that has a good chance of success depending upon the facts.

Finding Grounds and Evidence

So, you have a claim that potentially has a good chance of success and you choose to go forth. We’ll put you in touch with a specialist solicitor with experience in wills and probate cases. They’ll also have a track record in achieving positive results for their clients.

Together, you will collect any evidence that you need to make your case. Subsequently, your solicitor will advise you what the best grounds are to contest the will.

Mediation

Once this is done, most solicitors will suggest mediation with the other beneficiaries. Often, this is the best possible first step to attempt to resolve the dispute.

During mediation, you will hold a discussion with the other beneficiaries. A third party without bias leads the discussion, helping you manage your disputes. This is with the aim of resolving any existing issues, any further issues that arise during the discussions and, ultimately, guiding all of the beneficiaries to a conclusion that everyone is happy with. In many cases, mediation will resolve the claim, and the case will not need to continue.

Going to Court

If there’s no resolution through mediation though, it will go to a probate court. There, a judge will balance the evidence and decide the merits of each beneficiaries’ claim. Also, they’ll consider the wishes the testator expresses in their will.

Going to court can be a long and costly process though, and you may not receive a result for a number of years if the judge is unable to make a decision. As we say, the case progressing to court is also extremely expensive. Moreover, if you lose, you may have to pay the other beneficiaries’ legal fees in full.

How to contest a will with our help

At The Inheritance Experts, we work with specialist law firms who have a proven track record in handling wills and probate disputes. This means they are well-placed to help you get the proportion of the estate you are entitled to.

If you believe you have grounds to contest a will and want to know if you have a realistic claim, do not hesitate to get in touch with The Inheritance Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

Challenging A Will: 3 Key Questions Answered

Losing a family member leads to a very distressing time. Particularly if you then find out that you have been left out of their will. Challenging a will, hence, takes that level of distress even higher.

Therefore, this may mean that you will need to contest their last will and testament. Here are some of the main queries you may have when it comes to challenging a will.

Who Can Challenge a Will?

  • Blood relatives. These are the people most likely to contest a will.
  • A spouse. This is true regardless of whether they are still in marriage to or split from the testator. If the marriage to the testator remains intact, they have the right to challenge the will.
  • A creditor. This is if the testator’s estate owes a creditor money.
  • A beneficiary. This can be someone in an earlier will.
  • An individual who relies on the testator. This can be through financial support or accommodation.
  • An individual who receives a promise to an item. This could be a verbal or written agreement between the testator and the individual. Then, a challenge can be made if the agreement wasn’t set in the will.

Why Might Someone Be Challenging a Will?

There are a variety of reasons, both legal and personal, why someone is challenging a will.

For example, a person might contest a will if they feel that they receive unfair treatment. Therefore, they would be challenging the will as a matter of principle. As part of this, they may also feel that they know the testator’s intentions. More importantly, they feel as though the will doesn’t speak adequately enough to those intentions.

In order to prove this, the person would need to show that they had a close relationship with the testator. Again, this can be shown in a variety of ways. For example. the two are in a marriage, or a long-term relationship and cohabitation.

The legal grounds for contesting a will, meanwhile, are as follows:

  • The will is invalid. For example, incorrectly made or doesn’t have signatures in the presence of two independent co-signing witnesses.
  • The writer of the will isn’t mentally fit enough to be signing a legal document.
  • The document or signature was forged. However, this can be very hard to prove.
  • The writer of the will faces pressure/coercion into creating the will or changing an existing will.
  • The will doesn’t adequately provide for those who were financially dependent upon the testator.

What Exactly Happens When You’re Challenging a Will?

In the first instance, check that the person contesting the will has the right to do so. If so, proceedings will begin for negotiation and mediation. The solicitor will seek an agreement which benefits all parties involved, in the quickest time possible and with minimal financial expenditure.

However, the best intentions of any legal parties and individuals might fall short. In fact, it may be impossible to come to an agreement during the mediation stage.

If this is the case, the issue will then be taken a step further to court, and you will adhere to a court hearing. This could include a wait of at least 12 months before an official court date, therefore this avenue is particularly time-consuming and expensive.

An affidavit will need to prepare in advance of the hearing. Moreover, a court will hear the argument and come to a resolution.

How we can help

If you are considering contesting a will, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. At The Inheritance Experts, we help people who want to contest a will or trust get what is rightfully theirs.

When you call us, one of our advisors will chat through the particular circumstances of your potential claim and advise whether you may have grounds for a claim. This is done on a free, no-obligation basis.

If you proceed with your claim, we’ll match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances. Your solicitor will then collect any evidence and will begin negotiating with the other side.

If you are thinking of challenging a will and would like to know if you have grounds for a valid claim, don’t hesitate. Contact The Inheritance Experts by filling in the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

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