What Are Contesting A Will Costs?

Contesting a will costs can put a financial strain on families and the beneficiaries choosing to contest the will. Therefore, it is essential to understand the costs involved in challenging a will before you decide to proceed. It will prepare you for every possible eventuality.

Contesting a Will Costs

When considering the cost of a probate dispute, you must understand that any form of court litigation can be expensive. Challenging probate is no exception. In fact, the costs are often extremely extensive due to the length and nature of the working process. It could be amplified by whether the parties are open to negotiations. Negotiation, by nature, keeps expenses down by avoiding court, seeking the availability of evidence, and the number of beneficiaries the case involves.

Expenses can range from the cost of lawyers and solicitors, court costs, the need for disbursements such as medical records and fees of a handwriting expert and other personnel. Who pays the costs of the court and other legalities is the judge’s decision when the case goes to trial. Furthermore, they will also decide the amount that each party will pay the other. Not to mention how much the successful parties will claim from the testator’s estate.

How Much Are Contesting a Will Costs?

Although it is difficult to predict the exact amount, costs can be incredibly high. In short, the largest even equal the value of the entire estate if the legal battle is particularly lengthy. The costs also increase if the case goes to court rather than in the negotiation phase of proceedings.

If you believe you’ll struggle to pay the expenses, you can apply for legal aid or legal loans. There are also options such as Legal Expenses Insurance. Many solicitors will also have no win, no fee arrangements in place to protect you in the event of an unsuccessful case.

Who Pays to Contest a Will?

In these cases, the losing party may face contesting a will costs. Although the unsuccessful party pays the winning beneficiary’s costs, money from the estate sometimes covers legal expenses. This is the case if the testator is the cause of the court challenge. In these cases, the estate effectively balances the costs of contesting the will.

However, if the will faces investigation, the party that creates them might pay them. If these two exceptions don’t stand, the probate challenger pays the legal costs. Please know that these may exceed the value of the estate.

With more families going to court over inheritance, understand that legal battle costs are extremely extensive and unpredictable. The nature of probate challenges ensures that the cost of bringing a will to court is extremely variable and depends on a number of factors, such as whether the testator is at fault, who is the unsuccessful party and whether your case reached court after negotiations. However, with this guide, you will be able to predict adverse financial situations and assess the risks accordingly.

A Mini-Guide to Contesting Probate

Below is a short contesting probate guide. But first, we offer a brief summary of why it matters so much.

Contesting a will can be a daunting and emotionally difficult time for all parties concerned. If you are displeased with the results of a will, you will want to contest probate. However, before you contest a will, there is a certain amount of information that you should know to ensure that you have the best chance of success.

Can Someone Contest a Probate?

You cannot, as a guide to contesting probate, do so simply because you are unhappy with a result. However, your concerns may fall into one of four main categories. Categories, in fact, as grounds for challenging wills. These include the following examples.

  • Lack of testamentary capacity.
  • Undue influence.
  • Forgery or fraudulent wills.
  • The will is invalid.

You may also be able to contest the will if a lack of financial provision goes to a dependant. You can also contest probate if you have been disinherited and have evidence to suggest that you are the heir of the testator’s estate.

Contesting Probate: A Guide

You should file a probate contest to the probate court before the necessary contesting probate time limits. You should file a probate contest up to six months after the probate is granted if you are a filing under the Inheritance Act. However, some grounds allow you to file a contest up to 12 years after the probate.

You should include information such as your relationship to the testator and the grounds you are contesting under. You should also seek legal advice from a lawyer, who can suggest what evidence you may need, advise you on whether you have a strong claim against the current will, and discuss with you the best course of action to establish your claim.

What happens next?

The claims process can take up to a year, and complicated cases can take up to two. Firstly, a solicitor will check if you have grounds to contest the will legally. Moreover, they may take out a caveat to stop the distribution of any of the will’s contents during the duration of the claims process. These last for six months and can be extended for an additional six months if necessary, and if your claims have not been resolved.

Then, mediation and negotiation may be employed in an attempt to prevent the case from going to court. During this, both parties will meet under the supervision of an advisory and unbiased third party who can encourage both parties to discuss their options.

Contesting Probate: Guide to Going to Court

Supposing the claim does not find a resolution. In that case, we’ll go to court, where both parties will give information and a judge will

  • Weigh up the evidence.
  • Decide the successful party.
  • Determine who will pay for the court costs.

Supposing your court case succeeds, the necessary claim’s amounts come from the court according to their judgement.

Regardless, the contesting probate process can be confusing and misleading. However, seeking probate advice and gathering evidence to support your case can clear certain aspects up. Because there’s no reason why your case won’t reach settlement without going to court or causing the least impact necessary to your daily life.

Should You Contest a Will?

Be honest: should you contest a will? In short, it’s worth doing if you know the right way to approach it.

Because with the death of a family member, the last thing on your mind is the will. You have to deal with the grief, the loss, the funeral, and so much more.

If a will does grab your attention, you hope a family member sets something aside for you. But if it’s contrary to what you expect, you might want to consider contesting it.

What is a Will?

A last will and testament is the only way a person can explicitly state how they wish their estate to be given away at the time of their death. It could explain things like:

  • where the money goes to;
  • who should take care of children who are under the age of 18.

If there are issues with a Will and a reason to contest it, an inquiry will open. This inquiry is actually known as a probate.

The reason why wills are so important is that, if there is no will, it is the government that decides who gets what. This can mean adult children get nothing and the spouse gets everything. Or it could mean that the testator’s lifetime partner gets nothing due to their being no marriage.

Who Can Contest a Will?

Only a few people can go about contesting a will. The spouse, child, cohabitee (lifetime partner) or another person with an explicit mention in the will can go about learning how to contest a will and make a case.

On What Grounds Can You Contest a Will?

There are four main grounds under which you can appeal a will. Perhaps you believe that the testator wasn’t healthy enough or of sound mind to create a Will. Or if they require ’round-the-clock care, for example, when the last Will was made. Certainly then, there is reason to doubt its validity.

Other grounds include a lack of proper execution. It needs a signature, for example, with two formal witnesses. But if their lawyers act as their witness, it could be hard to contest. On the other hand, if there is doubt in the process, an earlier version of the will might become valid.

Of course, suspected fraud or coercion is always a reason to contest a will. These are fraudulent activities, though they can be difficult to prove.

What is the Time Limit?

When it comes to contesting a will, the sooner the better. Because there is a time limit to contest a will.

In general, you’ll have six months to contest a will. The only real example of when you don’t need to challenge a will within six months is if you gain evidence of fraud.

So serious is this allegation that fraud is always a reason to contest a Will and thus, has no time limit.

Yet with fraud, you generally want to contest the Will before the recipient and perpetrator spends your inheritance. This can only be done if you have proof.

How Can you Contest a Will?

You can contest a will easily with the right grounds, evidence, and help from contentious probate solicitors for cases such as yours. To contest a will today, get in touch with us and we will work out the likelihood your case has of winning.

Paying Inheritance Tax: What Is Involved?

The Inheritance Experts offer some deep insights into paying inheritance tax (IHT)

It’s possible you have 99 problems, but paying inheritance tax (IHT) ain’t one. In short, you’ll only need to worry about IHT if your estate is large enough to incur the charge.

However, to ensure your loved ones receive their rightful share to an estate, consider IHT when writing your will. If you’re unfamiliar with inheritance tax, you might be unsure about what it is or what you need to do. Keep reading to learn more about paying inheritance tax and the processes involved.

Who Doesn’t Need to Worry About Paying Inheritance Tax?

By rule, IHT goes onto the estate of a person who passes away. In general, IHT’s impact stretches to everything from finances, property, and possessions. However, you will not need to pay inheritance tax if:

  • Your estate’s value is below the NRB of £325,000.
  • You have chosen to leave everything from above the threshold to either your spouse or civil partner.
  • Also, you’re leaving the above threshold to an exempt beneficiary (g. a charity).

However, your estate’s value is higher than the NRB. Accordingly, the sum above the threshold could be subject to a 40% tax rate. Ultimately, this could prevent your loved ones from receiving a lump sum or property left for them in your will. That’s a situation, in turn, that could lead to someone challenging a will.

Currently, the NRB rate is £325,000 until 2021 when it could be subject to change. However, the rate could rise if you are surviving civil partner or widowed. Yet, it is possible for couples to transfer available NRB to a surviving partner.

This is a Transferable Nil Rate Band (TNRB) and can double the amount to £650,000.

Paying Inheritance Tax: When Do You Have To Do It?

HMRC require IHT to be paid six months after the person died. A failure to do so will result in the tax accruing interest. A will’s executor can pay the tax using various assets. For instance, the testator’s property or by making instalments over a 10-year period.

However, the outstanding sum is subject to interest charges. But an executor might sell a family member’s assets prior to paying IHT. Therefore, they must ensure both the instalments and any interest incurred are consequently paid in the IHT bill.

Unfortunately, if you fail to account for inheritance tax when writing a will, this could lead to inheritance disputes. Even worse, it could cause a beneficiary to contest a will. To that end, they might believe they have not received their fair share of an estate.

What About Capital Gains Tax?

In short: a beneficiary isn’t usually liable to pay Capital Gains Tax on their inheritance. One obvious exception, however, is the following scenario.

  1. You inherit something (for example, property) as part of your estate;
  2. Subsequently, you sell that asset for a profit of some kind.

What will the tax-free inheritance tax be in 2020-21?

In the 2020-21 tax year, Which.co.uk stresses the nil-rate band for tax-free inheritance tax rates allowance is still £325,000.

How does my life insurance affect IHT?

For this, we’d like to share some great insight and guidance from Online Money Advisor, so credit to them:

Inheritance tax is paid on any estate totalling more than £325,000. Any amount of money in an estate over this threshold is taxed at 40%. (That’s the case) no matter what the income tax bracket of the beneficiary.

Therefore, to avoid inheritance tax liability, life insurance payouts need to stay under that £325,000. Another option, says Online Money Advisor, is to pay the life insurance directly to a:

  • civil partner;
  • spouse, or;
  • a club or charity.

In that set of scenarios, you won’t find yourself subject to IHT as a result. Ergo, no taxes to pay, especially on the transference of assets between married couples.

How to Pay Inheritance Tax

An executor must apply for an IHT reference number at least three weeks before payment is due on the estate. Upon receiving the number, an executor can either:

  • Pay it from their personal bank account;
  • Or, pay it from a joint account with the testator.

To make a full or partial payment, you can pay via:

  • Online or telephone banking;
  • Your bank or building society;
  • CHAPS or Bacs;
  • A cheque through the post.

Conclusion

If your estate is above the NRB threshold, inheritance tax cannot be avoided. To prevent inheritance disputes from arising, you must factor in IHT when writing a will. As a result, you can ensure you provide your loved ones with an equal share of your estate*.

*If you so desire, of course.

Witness To A Will Signing: Who Can Do It?

Planning to write a will in either England or Wales? It will need the signatures and presence of two independent witnesses. If it isn’t, the will is legally invalid, and it could face challenges when you pass away. So having a witness to a will is essential.

There are, however, various rules you will need to adhere to during the signing. To ensure you don’t invalidate a will, read on to learn who can be a witness when executing a will.

Who Should be a Witness During a Signing?

You might be surprised to learn that the laws regarding witnesses are rather relaxed. However, witnesses should be chosen to prove a will has been effectively executed; otherwise, it could make it easier for others to contest a will. For this reason, you should choose witnesses who are:

  • First, the must be over the age of 18.
  • Second, they must be competent, i.e. of sufficient mental capacity.
  • Third, they cannot be beneficiaries or an executor.

For example, you could ask a friend, neighbour or colleague to sign a will. However, only if you do not plan to include them as a beneficiary. It is also possible to ask a GP to be a witness. That’s especially true if you are an elder, are suffering from an illness or are taking medication. By doing so, this could prevent others from stating you were not sound of mind when signing the document and could provide fewer grounds for contesting a will.

Also, it is beneficial to choose a witness who is your age or younger, which will ensure they are alive should you pass away, so they can state they watched the signing of a will.

It is also important to note that a witness doesn’t need to read your will. In essence, they merely need to be a witness to a will signing.

Who Shouldn’t be a witness to a Will Signing?

A witness should be chosen to provide evidence that a will was successfully executed, which can prevent others from turning to will dispute solicitors to challenge its validity after your death.

For this reason, you should avoid asking the following people to be a witness:

  • First, an executor cannot be a witness to a will signing.
  • Secondly, a beneficiary is not a valid witness.
  • Thirdly, a partner by marriage or civil partnership can’t be witnesses.
  • Finally, any blood relatives are also ineligible.

The Will Signing Process

Once your will is complete, you must fill in the following information in the presence of two witnesses in certain appropriate areas.

  • The date of the will’s signatures and declarations.
  • Sign your name using your signature.
  • Ask the witnesses to add their signatures.
  • Print their names, occupations, and addresses.

Once the last will and testament have signatures from both the testator and their two witnesses, you can’t amend the document.

When to Review a Will

While a document shouldn’t be amended once the last will and testament has been signed, it is possible to review and amend it at a later date. For example, consider reviewing your will if your partner passes away, you add to your family, or if you get married or divorced.

If, however, you question the validity of a loved one’s will, it is important to act as soon as possible to prevent the executor from receiving a grant of probate. To do so, contact The Inheritance Experts today to talk to one of our experienced will dispute solicitors.

What Are The Grounds To Contesting a Will?

When you lose someone you love, it’s a difficult and trying time to get through. One of the saddest parts of such a loss is that individuals can suddenly become focused on personal gain when it comes to the issue of the will. Especially when the will was either written or amended when the person you have lost was potentially not of sound mind and body. This and other grounds to contesting a will can and do crop up.

In this situation, you need to know what the grounds are for contesting this document so that you can make sure that the wishes of your lost loved one are carried out as they would have wanted and not taken advantage of.

Understanding the reasons for contesting

When you look up how to contest a will, you will most likely be bombarded with legal jargon that can easily confuse you if you yourself are not from a professional legal background. In the face of this, it can feel like giving up is easier than trying to navigate the law around the leaving on wills, but you must press on in order to get justice for your loved one.

To help you out, this article has broken down what some of the grounds for contesting a will are in simple terms, as follows:

Testamentary Capacity

Testamentary capacity refers to when the individual in question made the will and whether or not they are the following.

  1. They understood they were making a will and the effect of that will.
  2. The person knows the value of their estate
  3. He/she understands the consequences of leaving someone out/including someone in their will.

This last point is especially important. For instance, say your loved one is a family member who would have wanted to leave money to support your family. Then, in their last days, they did not. They wouldn’t be of the sound mind to understand that you were relying on that support to get by.

Lack of valid execution

This refers to the legality of a will and its signing. A will requires the signatures/presence of at least two witnesses and the signature of the testator themselves. If you think this isn’t the case, then you have grounds to contest the legality of the will.

Undue influence

This is something that is potentially hard to contest on because it requires hard evidence. However, it is not impossible and does happen.

Undue influence is when the testator deals with coercion in some way, either through kindness or threat. In turn, this coercion leads to amendments to their will which they wouldn’t do without such influence. Chances of contesting a will, in this case, will depend on the evidence you have, and the circumstances of each individual situation.

Fraudulent or Forged wills

Fraudulent wills can occur in a number of circumstances. For example, say that someone writes the will on their behalf and subsequently wrote themselves into it. This would be a fraudulent activity. Alternatively, if someone spoke to the deceased as they wrote the will. In turn, they persuade them to leave someone out or write themselves in. That, too, would be a fraud and make the will invalid upon contestation.

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