Do I Have the Legal Right to Dispute a Will?

We say it often: experiencing the death of a loved one is never easy. When there are financial matters to attend to after they pass away, this adds even more distress to the grieving process. However, when it comes to the legal right to dispute a will, you need to explore your options.

Before you enter into a legal dispute over a will, ask yourself if it’s worth the tensions that may arise within your family. If so, here is how you assess whether or not you can legally dispute it, and how to increase your chances of a successful claim.

Legal right to dispute a will: the grounds to do so

Merely holding suspicions over a will is not enough to give you legal sway when disputing it. Most solicitors will require that you have solid legal grounds for a dispute before they accept a case.

Legal grounds may cover circumstances where:

  • There was no valid execution of the will.
  • Situations where there was no knowledge or approval of the will.
  • Any rectification grounds.
  • Undue influence.
  • Revocation.
  • Lack of testamentary capacity.

Further legal help may be necessary when contesting a will that may be fraudulent. This presents you with grounds to involve the police and could well result in a longer investigation.

Who can legally contest a will?

It is not just the grounds for disputes that you must consider. When assessing whether you are legally able to contest a will, you must also consider who you are. There is a long list of people who can do this. If you are on here, you are off to a good start:

  • Family members directly related to the deceased, e.g. Children or grandchildren.
  • Spouses who are still legally married to the testator.
  • Someone who expects something in the will before the testator dies, but was left out of it.
  • Debt creditors.
  • Someone who financially dependent on the testator.
  • A beneficiary set in a previous will, but not this one.

How to begin a dispute

Remember that as soon as a dispute is brought to light, you will have plenty of time to make sure you cover each stage of the process as thoroughly as possible. It helps to have a solicitor on hand throughout this time, who can provide both emotional and legal support to everyone involved.

While finding the right solicitor is a great first step, you must also make sure you have enough proof when presenting your findings. This is because merely speculative cause for a claim is lacking. It simply won’t give you the legal backing you need to ensure your claim is successful. Furthermore, you may launch a full-scale investigation into the validity of the will in the lead up to this.

It must also be noted that if you are set on disputing a will, do this before probate goes through to avoid drawing it out. It is more affordable for all parties to try mediation before beginning a dispute. Ultimately, however, one in four siblings say they would dispute a will. So, if an agreement cannot be reached, you are perfectly right to dispute yourself. This is as long as you are aware of the risks that come with a dispute.

How to Handle a Trust Dispute

Knowing how to handle a trust dispute is becoming increasingly relevant to inheritance affairs. It provides a unique way to minimise estate taxes, for one thing. Also, trusts are becoming a more popular solution instead of wills for when you wish to leave money to a family member after death.

The thing is that while a trust benefits someone else, it must be in waiting until this beneficiary comes of age. Alternatively, until they reach a certain set of requirements that allows the assets to go into their care. While this kind of arrangement can benefit some people, not always. In short, it also paves the way for disputes over who the assets should really belong to.

To handle a trust dispute, while messy, it requires paramount sensitivity. Here’s how to do it.

Establishing your claim

Before you go about making a trust dispute, it’s best to establish why your claim would be viable. Many people dispute trusts because:

  • assets aren’t split fairly between trustee members;
  • someone wishes to remove a trustee from the trust, or;
  • there have been significant issues with the handling of the trust.

These claims may present reasonable ground to work from – if you have proof. With evidence, it always makes more sense than what the conditions of the trust initially lay out. For example, if someone unknown to a family is in receipt of an entire trust over the testator’s close-knit children.

Bear in mind that if you’re a vulnerable beneficiary, you may struggle to make a claim without the appropriate support. That holds whether you are not yet 18 or live with a disability. This is, of course, unless a trustworthy family member and solicitor can support you on your behalf.

Finding the right solicitor

Knowing when you have a claim is only half the battle when you handle a trust dispute. You must then choose a solicitor to help guide you through the process. Accordingly, you’ll be able to understand legal limitations and guidelines at every step of the way.

Going it alone can result in you incurring extra stress and financial worry over an already sensitive issue, but it is natural to be wary about which solicitors you trust.

To help you make a sensible decision, it’s a good idea to use specialist online platforms to collate real-world recommendations. This way, you can be confident that the solicitor you have chosen will be able to help.

Funding your legal costs to handle a trust dispute

With 30% of people worrying about approaching a lawyer or solicitor over fears of cost, cost las always been a huge factor in putting people off making a claim. However, when you feel passionate about your case, it’s worth putting in a claim to see if it is successful. You can either create a payment plan for paying your solicitor, or you may seek legal aid. In any case, the most popular kind of claims is those which are no win, no fee. This is because they don’t require a claimant to pay any sort of monetary incentive if their claim falls through. If their claim is successful, then the assets recovered from this claim may help pay for the legal costs associated incurred due to winning.

Settling a Trust Dispute: What To Do

Settling a trust dispute can be a complex process, and a distressing time if a disagreement has to be resolved between family members. So we want to ensure that the process is as quick and straightforward as possible. In turn, it’s important to prepare for what to do with a dispute and how you can manage every eventuality.

Consider the Grounds for Settling a Trust Dispute

If you are planning to raise a dispute, you should consider the grounds that you have to base your claim on. Concurrently, the legal grounds to raise a trust dispute include

  • The trust’s signature isn’t in line with legalities or with the correct formalities.
  • When fraud is a factor in the process of creating the trust.
  • Undue influence weighs on the creator of the trust.
  • The trustee lacks the mental capacity to understand the trust or what they were signing.

So you must weigh the grounds on which you want to base the dispute. From there, you can then raise it with a solicitor and take the case forward.

Hiring a Solicitor for Settling a Trust Dispute

Next, you should always make sure that one of your first steps is that you hire trust dispute solicitors. Doing so ensures you know exactly what to do in terms of your individual case. Additionally, you’re less likely to make mistakes along the way that could impact it.

Solicitors can help to guide your case and help you arrange for the procurement of evidence. They can also help you to organise mediation and discuss the best options in terms of your trust dispute, including whether it then needs to go to court.

Arrange Mediation

Most trust disputes reach settlement once mediation takes way. In general, the mediation process has many advantages. In short, it will include two main factors.

  • First, you need to gather the trustees together.
  • Second, you must discuss the case, aiming to work toward a resolution.

However, a third party will sit in on these discussions, who can guide your conversation and aim to bring any disputes to a close.

It will ensure that the case closes before any sort of court proceedings can go ahead. Additionally, it enables you to maintain close relations with your family. Ideally, a resolution will come as smoothly as possible after the case closes.

Court Proceedings

You can go to court in order to remove or change a trustee who is in the dispute. To do this, you will have to present the appropriate evidence to a judge, who will then decide if there is enough evidence to support removing the trustee. This evidence must be written in documents or testimony in order to be valid.

Your solicitor will help you to arrange court proceedings, but the court should approve settlement agreements for the best practice, and they reserve the right to enforce these after the court proceedings.

Although family trust disputes can be complicated, with this guide, you will be able to navigate your trust dispute. It ensures that you will be able to resolve it as quickly and as simply as possible. And, more importantly, that you can sustain good relations between you and your family members.

4 Easy Tips For Understanding Trust Disputes

Below are some helpful trust dispute tips you should understand. Here’s a bonus tip. Within a family or close relations, it’s difficult to resolve trust grievances without professional guidance. In addition, disputes add stress when you don’t have a full understanding on the full extent of the situation. The following guide helps you determine what the trust dispute is about, and the ways to find a sensible solution.

1. Understand the Grounds for Dispute

When it comes to trust dispute tips, remember that a dispute can begin between trustees for many different reasons. Ultimately, caring for the contents until the beneficiaries reach the age or date in which they may receive the contents. Common grounds for a dispute include problems with trust administration. Also, the addition or removal of a trustee, or issues concerning the trust’s contents. However, the most significant grounds for disputes concern a breach of trust. These happen for many reasons. Such as if a beneficiary gifts a trustee’s assets not meant to receive. Or if a trustee invests the assets without authorisation. Alternatively, if a trustee is not acting impartially.

Trust Dispute Tips #1:

Do your homework and learn what the grounds are for a dispute.

2. Know the Time Limits of Disputing a Trust

When a trust dispute occurs, and you wish to make a claim, there are time limits that you must ensure that you make a claim within. This ‘limitation period’ of time is usually six years from the conduct of a breach of trust. A time limit receives an extension in the case of fraud. After this, your claims will not be valid.

Trust Dispute Tips #2:

You have a six year time limit to make a claim within. But don’t put it off.

3. Understand the Actions that Can be Taken

When you are in the middle of trust disputes, start by seeking legal advice to:

  • Establish your case, and;
  • Discuss your options.

Your trust dispute solicitors may suggest setting the trust aside, which can occur if the trust is found to be invalid. In summary, this can happen for a number of reasons.

  • If the trust is in place of a will.
  • When there has been a breach of trust by trustees or other protectors.
  • Wherein the trust has no legally appointed trustees.
  • Finally, if the trust intends to defraud creditors.

You may then be able to apply to the court to sort out the disputed trusts and, in court, they can help you to remove or replace trustees.

Trust Dispute Tips #3:

You have a six year time limit to make a claim within. But don’t put it off.

4. Try Mediation First

However, applications to court can be long and arduous, not to mention extremely costly. So it’s vital that you attempt to solve the dispute through other options before settling on a court application. With the number of trust disputes at a 43% high, one of the best methods to solve trust disputes is to attempt trust dispute mediation. All parties in the dispute can discuss their options with a professional mediator (without bias).

That mediator can prompt you to consider your options and guide you to a solution. Therefore, when in the middle of family trust disputes, you should ensure that you have detailed knowledge of the best ways to solve the case outside of court, as this will ensure that you are able to maintain good relations with your family and solve problems as quickly as possible.

Trust Dispute Tips #4:

Above all else, consider resolving it out of court through mediation.

Common Trust Disputes: An Explanatory Guide

The law has its complications, especially when it comes to common trust disputes. Which is why when the law (or an individual) is causing you trouble, there’s a better way to handle trust disputes.

That best way forward is to contact a lawyer and have them work within the bounds of the law for you. In the case of common trust disputes, the process is easier and more likely to succeed. Usually, hiring professional negligence solicitors to pursue trust and probate claims (especially a contentious trust) can help.

What is a Common Trust Dispute?

In short, a trust is usually for estates where a person’s assets are considerable. It is, in essence, a better way to:

  • minimise tax, and;
  • protect the estate until it’s time for the assets within the trust to go to its trustees.

A testator can create these trusts before death, or as per their request in a last will and testament.

As you can imagine, the goal of a trust is to minimise complications. But even the best plans do have faults and trust disputes do happen.

For example:

  • if the trust is incorrectly put together;
  • when there are disputes between the trustees and beneficiaries, or;
  • if there is evidence of fraud.

When is a Trust Fraudulent?

A trust can be fraudulent for a variety of reasons. If the trustee is negligent or commits fraud, for example. Or if a trustee ignores a breach of trust committed by a fellow trustee. Negligence almost always will open up a case for fraud against the trust and/or its trustees.

Moreover, it’s generally easy to prove. If a trustee in any way neglects their duty as the trust outlines, they are inherently negligent.

Another example is if the person who creates it lacks the mental capacity or faces coercion into making it. This is similar to any fraud for the last will and testament.

If the settlor, or the person who set up the trust, was given negligent legal or tax advice this could also make the trust fraudulent. This same applies if the trust documents themselves don’t line up with the wishes of the deceased in their will.

Matters of covering the ownership

Trusts can also be used to disguise ownership of estates. This is also a fraudulent activity, one of several common trust disputes scenarios you might encounter.

In short, either fraud can occur to exploit the trust, or fraud can occur because the trust is a result of fraudulent purposes. Amongst common trust disputes, a dispute in trusts occurs when there is either fraud or a suspicion of fraud.

What to Do if You Want to Dispute a Trust?

Instigating family trust disputes can, indeed, be challenging. There is a lot of documentation and people within a trust, to begin with. Moreover, if you suspect fraud it can also be difficult to prove.

Additionally, one area of concern is about what happens as a result of a dispute internally. In short, you may, in fact, want to dispute a trust that’s been unfair to you. At the same time, you wouldn’t want to cause damage to family relationships in the process.

Bringing family members into litigation can hurt feelings, and ruin relationships. That is why when you want to contest a trust you need trust dispute solicitors who can handle the process delicately. You will also want to choose professionals who are well versed in the law and changes that have been made over the years.

How to act in the best interest

There are many elements to keep in mind, overall, when it comes to trust disputes. We reveal a few of these below, coupled with a short explanation of what they can mean to the trust assets.

Time limits

One common question you’ll find in this line of work is about how long you have to file a claim. In short, there are two main factors to consider:

  1. If there is a breach of duty in terms of the trust itself;
  2. Alternatively, if allegations of fraud loom over the case, especially with regard to fraudulence on the fiduciary duty.

When a trust dispute occurs and you wish to make a claim, time limits cut back on how long you have. This ‘limitation period’ of time is usually six years from the conduct of a breach of trust. Ultimately, this time limit receives an extension in the case of fraud. But after this happens, your claims will not be valid.

Remember, above all: you have a six-year time limit to make a claim within. But regardless of the types of trust, you’re talking about, be sure to act quickly.

Remove Trustees

Turn to your solicitor for legal advice regarding this particularly contentious probate issue. But for the sake of this type of dispute resolution, the removal of a trustee is at the discretion of the trustor.

Even successors to the testator can be subject to removal thanks in part to express powers granted within the trust deed.

Laws Governing Trust Disputes

Trusts coming to life on or after 1 February 2001 are subject to the Trustee Act 2000. Meanwhile, those before this date are subject to different laws, including the Inheritance Act. Our collection of legal firms know these laws very well, especially as they pertain to trust disputes and resolution.

As we state throughout our online services, claims tend to arise whenever a claimant doesn’t receive reasonable financial provision in the Will. The Inheritance Act addresses reasonable financial provision: for instance, non-spouses and civil partners can accordingly bring a claim. For spouses and civil partners, furthermore, the matter goes beyond maintenance.

Inheritance Act claims also relate to those testators living in either England or Wales. Accordingly, the deceased person must have lived in either England or Wales. In contrast, it doesn’t really matter where the claimant is from to file a claim. Above all, you can make a claim no matter where you live – you’re not relegated to needing to be a resident in England or Wales.

0161 413 8763

7 days a week from 8am - 9pm

Thinking of joining our panel? Get in touch with customer acquisition agency, mmadigital, by completing their contact form and they will get back to you. Digital Agency