Contesting a Will Time Limits

When it comes to contesting a Will, there are a few matters to think about. One of these is time limits. There are time limits to take into consideration when contesting a Will, and there is also the time it takes to do so.

Contesting A Will Time Limits

In general terms, you have until the executor is granted and they start to distribute the estate to contest a Will. There are exceptions to this rule, however. You may have longer to contest the Will if you are a beneficiary, for example, or if you believe there is fraudulent activity involved.

It is also possible to contest a Will after the executor has begun dividing the estate. The best way to determine this is by seeking legal advice as soon as possible.

There is also a time limit on making a claim after a person has passed away. This time limit is usually within 5 years of the person dying, but there may also be exceptions to this.

Contesting Probate Time Limits

Under The Inheritance Act, you only have six months to contest a Will after probate has been granted. A Grant of Probate is a legal document that clarifies the Executor of a Will, and confirms they have legal right to deal with the Estate. This means it is important to make your claim as soon as possible. If you can, it is best to make a claim before probate has been issued.

If you are one of the beneficiaries of the Will, you have 12 months to make a claim. There is no statutory time limit for probate disputes that involve fraud. These can include if the person who made the Will was not of sound mind, or they made their Will under influence.

If these time limits pass, it may still be possible to make a claim under The Inheritance Act. You must contact the court so they can grant permission for you to do this.

How Long does it take to Contest a Will?

There are several stages to contesting a Will, so it can be a lengthy process. The first stage is mediation, where the parties will try and come to an agreement. Mediation is almost always the most effective way to handle Will disputes, and the parties can usually come to an agreement.

If mediation does not work, the case may need to go to court. This will also lengthen the process, so solicitors always recommend mediation first.

There can also be other complications that lengthen the process, such as if a beneficiary dies before the testator of the original Will. In this case, their inheritance would become part of their own estate. This means that you would need to contest both Wills.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of claims. This includes contesting a Will, contesting Probate, and making claims under The Inheritance Act. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Mental Capacity and Contesting A Will

For a Will to be legally valid, the person must have the required mental capacity at the time of writing. This is also known as being of sound mind. It is important for the person to be of sound mind to ensure that all of their wishes are carried out the way they want them to be.

Mental capacity and contesting a Will go hand in hand, as, if the person did not have the mental capacity to make their Will, then it is one of the stronger reasons to contest the Will. If you believe that they did not have the mental capacity to make or change their Will, then you may be able to contest the Will.

What is Mental Capacity?

Mental capacity, also known as testamentary capacity, means that the person must have the mental ability to understand what they are doing. They must also understand the impact that this will have on their estate and beneficiaries.

Because a lot of people make or change their Will later in life, they can have problems with mental capacity. It can be affected by many conditions and injuries.

Mental Capacity Examples

One of the most common diseases that may affect a person’s mental capacity is Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s Disease is known to affect the brain, and memory. So if a loved one was suffering Alzheimer’s, there is a chance that they may not have been of sound mind when the Will was written. Another example of a condition that may affect a person’s mental capacity is Dementia. If they were suffering from dementia, for example, you may be able to make a case that the last will is invalid.

Injuries can also affect a person’s mental capacity. Examples of this include brain injuries, which can happen at any point in someone’s life. Serious injuries can also affect mental capacity, as can mental illness.

Mental Capacity and Contesting A Will

There are a few reasons you may be able to contest a Will based on the person lacking mental capacity. These include:

  • If the Will contradicts earlier promises or agreements
  • The Will does not accurately reflect the deceased’s wishes
  • It does not provide for those expected, such as grandchildren
  • You know the deceased was suffering from a condition such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia

A mental capacity will contest is one of the stronger cases you can make for contesting a will. This is because when you do, there can be evidence they were not mentally well when the last will was made. In this case, the previous Last Will and Testament would instead be the valid Will.

To prove that the deceased lacked mental capacity when making their Will, a solicitor will get their medical records. They will then work with a medical expert. The medical expert can help determine the state of mind that the person was in when they made or changed their Will. This will help in contesting the Will.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of inheritance claims. This includes contesting a Will based on mental capacity. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

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.

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.

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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