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 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.

Contesting a will of a stepparent: the basics

Contesting a will of a stepparent, in short, is a tricky matter in relation to inheritance disputes. Intestacy rules try to evolve to keep up with the parent and the step-child of the family.

It’s not uncommon nowadays for many families and children to have stepparents, and live with them, for a variety of reasons. Especially if you are a step-child who is:

  • very close to their stepparent and;
  • considers them as good as your biological parent for the entirety of your life

The fact is, it can be very upsetting to learn that they may have left you out of their will. Or, if they don’t give you what you feel they owe you as stepchildren.

However, as a step-child, it may be an area of uncertainty whether you have the right to contest the will of a step-parent. In fact, atypical family setups featuring non-blood relatives alone add difficulty to traditional estates.

That’s why, at The Inheritance Experts, we commit to helping you in these circumstances. Moreover, we’re here to advise the steps to take for contesting a stepparent’s will.

Circumstances around the drawing up of the will

Firstly, a will needs to have been made by an individual who has a sound mental capacity to do so. Therefore, your first step may be to evaluate your stepparent’s mental state during the time they wrote the will. Moreover, you must deduce whether they were of sound mind to do so.

Indeed, it can be very difficult to prove mental incapacity regarding the formulation of wills. But it’s a good starting point if you do believe your step-parent didn’t have the requisite mental capacity to distribute their assets accordingly.

This also applies if you suspect that the stepparent, despite being sound mind, faces undue influence from someone as they write the will. Bear in mind that much of the legislation revolves around a claim under the inheritance provision of the Family and Dependents Act 1975.

Your Legal Rights for Contesting a Will of a Stepparent

Financial provision in stepfamilies is an increasingly common scenario in the nuclear post-War era. To be sure, your legal rights aren’t as profound as those of biological children: blood relatives or direct children, as it were.

But you can contest the will of a step-parent if any of the following applies to you.

  • Your step-parent made a firm promise to you that you would receive a certain asset in their will. However, this agreement isn’t made clear in their Last Will and Testament.
  • In addition, if you depend financially on your step-parent. Perhaps you continue living with them after your biological mother or father dies/moves on. Or they were the sole financial providers – but these financial expectations get no coverage in the will.

What matters is the ability to establish your position. Moreover, that you prove that you were financially dependant on the step-parent in question. Therefore, by extension, they deserve a fair inheritance.

To fully understand whether your circumstances merit the need for a contesting of the will, seek sound legal advice. There are many factors worth consideration by a legal representative. Plus, there are some other considerations regarding the court, should the will contest go forth.

Seek Legal Advice for Contesting a Will of a Stepparent

  • How close you were to the testator;
  • The extent to which your stepparent supports you, and;
  • Also, your age when the stepparent joins the family.

If you are unsure whether your circumstances apply, then don’t hesitate to contact us.

How Long Does it Take For a Will Contest to be Resolved?

The grievance process is difficult enough, but it can be made significantly longer if a will dispute is needed. Many loved ones may be hurt and angry if they feel as though they have not been adequately covered in a final testament, which then leads to a will being contested. Which begs a common question: How Long does it take for a will contest to be resolved?

Our solicitors at The Inheritance Experts are experts in the area of will contesting: contact us for legal advice if you believe a will should be contested, whether it is on behalf of yourself or someone else.

What it Means to Contest a Will

Contesting a will means that a party close to the deceased feels as though they disagree with how the assets have been shared out within a will, such as not feeling as though they have received what they are fairly owed, or due to negligent behaviour.

Grounds to contest a will include:

  • Fraudulent wills
  • Forged wills
  • A lack of knowledge
  • Testamentary capacity
  • Lack of valid execution

In order to contest a will, the individual needs to have the legal right to do so. That means that contesting can only be made by the following:

  • A spouse
  • Direct family members
  • Beneficiaries
  • An individual who relied on the deceased for financial reasons
  • A creditor to whom the testator was in debt to
  • An individual promised an asset by the testator, but did not receive it in the will

How Long You Can Expect the Process to Take

Contesting a will relies on time, both with a time limit to submit your case, and then the time frame you can expect to wait following the opening of the case.

How Long Does it Take For a Will Contest to be Resolved? The Time Limit

You have until the executor starts distributing the testator’s assets in accordance with their Final Will and Testament, after the grant of probate. Sometimes, it’s possible to submit a claim after the commencement of distribution. Therefore, it’s advisable to do it beforehand to make for an easier process.

As with anything, as soon as possible is always beneficial, and the earlier you begin, the more likely it will be that you succeed.

The only time that experts don’t advise an exact time limit is with a case of fraud, wherein you would have as long as is necessary.

The Expected Time Frame after Commencing the Case

In short, don’t expect the process to be a quick one.

Firstly, the best way to resolve the dispute is via the means of mediation, which can be a long process. There is always the risk that mediation may not be successful. In turn, the contesting of a will then require court proceedings.

From then on, there is no designated time frame regarding how long the court may take to make a decision: it may take a few months, but it could take anything up to a few years. It also depends on the complications the case presents: do bear in mind that every case is unique.

Therefore you should expect the overall process to take a couple of years, and anything less will be an advantage.

Can an Executor be Removed From a Will?

If an executor is removed from a will, certain grounds are clearly not being met. But first, a quick summary of what an executor to a will is. Because being a professional executor is not easy in the first place.

The Official Law

Regarding an inheritance dispute, the executor administrates business pertain to the testator’s will. But say the executor doesn’t meet the duties inherent with the job.

Accordingly, Section 116 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 states that

the court has the power to remove a personal representative, or executor before the Grant of Probate.

An executor of a will is a person who carries out the instructions the testator provides. They’re also responsible for trying for maximum gain when it comes to sharing out assets.

  • Such as selling property at the right time to receive the highest return.
  • Or being responsible for the handling of the correct amount of taxes.

That said, any witness statements or ensuing legal costs that come with the administration of the will often fall to the executor of the will as well.

You can assign more than one person to be an executor, in short. However, many people find that assigning just one person is the most constructive way to operate.

Who is Eligible to be an Executor?

It is up to the testator (deceased person) to decide who they wish to be an executor. Additionally, they can choose anyone they like, as long as that individual is 18 years of age or over. Common choices include spouses or children, which means executors can also be included in the will, too.

On the practical side, the executors appointed may be legal representatives and individuals with sufficient experience instead.

An executor must be a trustworthy person, one who is able to follow the testator’s instructions.

What Happens if You Don’t Have an Executor?

A situation might arise where parties cannot elect or find a capable executor to administer the estate. In such cases, there is a government official who is able to step in should you be in need as a last resort.

Can a Chosen Executor be Removed from a Will?

Dismissing the executor of a will is the responsibility of the testator during the course of their life. However, following the testator’s death, removing the chosen executor becomes more difficult.

But the application to remove an executor (by way of application to the court) is not unheard of, either. In short, a court can remove the executor from a will if one of the following things occur.

  • First, if it can be proven the executor is incapable of performing the duties of the executor role.
  • Second, if they are unsuitable for the position.
  • Third, if since the death of the testator they are now ineligible to serve as an executor.
  • Fourth, if they are acting unreasonably and not in the testator’s best interests (‘best interest’ is a determination of the court).

Also, if there exists a severe conflict of interest.

Finally, if there are any legal ineligibility criteria. For instance, mental conditions which prevent the executor from acting as the role demands.

How is an Executor Removed From a Will?

The removal of an executor can only take place through court proceedings. Accordingly, the High Court will decide on the manner of removal using the details and reasons listed above. Moreover, they’ll attempt to address the future administration of the estate.

To begin these proceedings following the death of the testator, the relevant party must file for a court proceeding. This individual needs to have a share of the will to have the ability to file to remove an executor.

Once court proceedings start, the legal representatives for the executor and the individual filing for removal will show why they either believe they must remain or leave as the executor. The reason for removal requires establishing.

If you are concerned that the executor of an estate is not acting correctly, contact us for advice. We work with leading solicitors who specialise in handling executor disputes to resolve issues swiftly and fairly.

At The Inheritance Experts, we can offer support and advice to appoint or remove an executor. Contact us today should you wish to discuss.

Not in Sound Mind: What Does this Mean for Wills?

Even when the circumstances surrounding a will are as legally-compliant and straight-forward as possible, it’s still a very distressing and difficult time. Therefore, when the idea of an individual not being of sound mind is taken into account, this can make it significantly more difficult to handle. It’s consequently important to know what to do in the circumstances of an individual being unable to formulate their own will, and The Inheritance Experts are on hand to guide you every step of the way.

What Does It Mean to be ‘Not of Sound Mind’?

To be of a sound mind, a person needs to have full comprehension of their self and their situation. In providing a will, a person needs to fully understand their affairs, loved ones and possessions. In turn, they must be able to formulate a will with a complete understanding of how they’ll distribute their assets. To be of sound mind, you also need to be able to make rational decisions and judgements.

This is different from being in a state of emotional capacity. Formulating a will in the first place is never easy. But being emotional or sensitive regarding the distribution doesn’t mean you’re incapable of making a logical choice.

What Needs to Be Done in this Case?

When an individual is not of sound mind, they’re incapable of making a rational decision in regards to:

  • possessions;
  • finances, and/or;
  • general affairs.

In turn, you should appoint a representative to make the decision on their behalf. This representative can distribute their assets accordingly and make the decision for them.

Electing an individual to this responsibility can either be a family member or friend, or a legal representative. Appointing the latter is most common due to the need for neutrality and a more analytical mindset.

Contesting a Will if you Think an Individual is Not of Sound Mind

It is possible to dispute a will if you are an external party who believes that the individual in question was non-compos mentis when they wrote their will. However, it can become very difficult to define being of a rational mind.

It’s different to making a decision which seems unexpected or nonsensical to a loved one or familiar individual. The writer of a will can make a rational and personal decision whilst also being of sound mind, even if that decision isn’t preferable to parties involved. This may be more in relation to an eccentric personality rather than a lack of rationality.

One must provide solid proof to attest that a person was not of sound mind when formulating their will. Of course, this then leads to difficulties in handling such a sensitive matter, which is why we encourage you to seek expert legal advice.

If you are unsure whether an individual is of unsound mind and require legal assistance, then don’t hesitate to contact The Inheritance Experts today.

A Forensic Handwriting Wills Expert to Examine Aretha Franklin’s Will

Aretha Franklin burst onto the worldwide music scene in the 1950s, developing a career that transcends her passing in 2018. Franklin’s voice and presence endure. But her family now deals with a stunning conundrum after the discovery of two wills. So wild is the news that a handwriting wills expert is now necessary to determine the future of her estate.

Some thought the singer, famous in part for her hit single Respect, didn’t originally leave an official will. Not only was one hidden, but another handwritten one now exists in the aftermath of her death. Hence, the need for a handwriting wills expert, to sort through:

  • One locked away in a cabinet.
  • The other one found under the couch.
  • Ergo, it’s only natural to assess the validity of these wills.

Franklin’s siblings at war

Franklin’s children are coming to terms with their mother’s death. However, the discovery of these wills present causes that force them to face each other in court. On one side, there is Kecalf Franklin, as the sole executor of her estate. Her youngest son, Kecalf is supporting the content of one of the handwritten wills from 2014.*

This will, however, rules out an inheritance for Teddy Franklin (her other son) and her niece Sabrina Owens. In turn, this is something that the other parties hope to contest. Kecalf is supporting his claim with help from handwriting expert Erich Speckin. In turn, his goal is to prove the will was indeed the product of Franklin’s own handwriting.

Additionally, Speckin has also been brought in to rule out any tampering with the will since it was written. To that end, Speckin can employ UV forensic technology to date the inks from the will. If Speckin can confirm the will’s validity, it’s possible that both Teddy and his other brother, Clarence will return fire. A beneficiary often does this by hiring their own forensic experts to contest the result.

Bringing in the Forensic Handwriting Wills Expert

With a whole host of forensic experts on the case, the lens falls on the handwriting in these wills. If the content of these wills was not contentious, then perhaps this expertise would not be needed.

However, due to the sensitive sibling tensions involved in the battle, these forensic examinations are more important than ever. Forensic examiner Bart Baggett outlines exactly what happens when someone examines handwriting.

“I always want to see the original because you can look under a microscope and see a pen lift, a hesitation, a striation.”

If these striations match Franklin’s other handwriting, Kecalf’s claim would be hard to dispute. He goes on to say that line spacing, autographs and birthday cards help to prove or disprove whether it is indeed her writing.

Baggett adds that he “would find it shocking if the other experts found that it’s not her writing. Because there’s just a voluminous amount of it and it’s so difficult to execute such an elaborate fraud. The skill level would be amazing.”

However, it’s worth noting that Baggett himself has not had a chance to examine the wills. Shedding light on the process of this, Baggett then suggests that Speckin must present his findings to the court and await judgement.

In effect, all handwriting examination can take place under the strict supervision of a court official. That way, no findings can be subject to accusations of fabrication or ultimately deeming the expert findings to be invalid.

From there, parties will need to come to an agreement over who takes charge of Franklin’s sprawling $80 million estates. Whether Kecalf (with the support of his brother Edward); or Owens, Teddy or Clarence become sole executors of the estate remains to be seen.

ADDENDUM:

As of late January 2020, Sabrina Owens is no longer the executor of Aretha Franklin’s estate. In a court filing, Owens states:

“Given my aunt’s love of family and desire for privacy, this is not what she would have wanted for us, nor is it what I want… I hope that my departure will allow the business of the estate to continue, calm the rift in my family and allow me to return to my personal life.”

Moreover, settlement of the estate itself remains up in the air. Since Owens left her post as executor, Detroit lawyer Reginald Hunter has taken charge of the estate (reportedly worth $17 million).

*To clarify, 2014 is when most believe the will was written.

What Evidence is Needed to Contest a Will?

Do you know what evidence is needed when contesting a will of a family member?

When a family member dies, it’s often a difficult grieving period for everyone who was close to them. Unfortunately, surprises in the testator’s will can cause more upset during this time. Often, some people find there are suspicious circumstances surrounding it.

No matter why you want to contest a will, you need proof to see a successful claim go through. It helps to know exactly what evidence is needed to contest a will.

So instead of searching for it, stick around and take note of these important steps.

Establishing your grounds to show what evidence is needed to contest a will

Knowing what legal grounds you stand on helps you determine if you can even contest a will in the first place. So let’s say that do meet the grounds to contest a will. Knowing the reason why you are doing it also enables you to streamline how you collect evidence. Here are some of the most common grounds to contest with.

The testator lacks the mental capacity to write the will

For example, if they were experiencing psychosis due to a mental health disorder.

They did not understand or approve the content of the will

Those hard of hearing, eyesight, or who dictate that someone else sign the will fall under this bracket.

Undue influence from another party

These grounds apply to when the testator faces consequential pressure to write their will a certain way.

The will doesn’t reflect a testator’s true intent

Accordingly, this is for circumstances where a will does not truly reflect the testator’s intentions.

Fraudulent Wills

Simply put, fraudulence is when benefits go to someone as a result of fraud. Moreover, you can challenge if fraud is even under suspicion, thus bringing the will itself into question.

Execution of the will violate the Wills Act 1837

Specifically, section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 is under violation in this scenario. As a result, the will becomes invalid and the estate passes under the statutory rules of intestacy.

Vital evidence to collect

Depending on which grounds you follow to contest the will, you’ll need specific evidence to back up your claims. One of the best examples is when you are contesting a will.* In this case, you will need to heavily rely on medical notes.

Witness Statements

Those present at the time of drafting and signing the will are important to determine if a will is valid. This also includes those who may have known the testator well before their own death. Examples of witnesses include**:

  • Solicitors who drew up the will.
  • People who witness the signing of the will.
  • Those, aside from medical professionals, who can attest to the testator’s state of mind during the signing of the will.
  • Loved ones involved in taking care of the testator before they died.
  • Anyone who believes they have knowledge of the testator’s previous intentions regarding their assets.

Helpful Documents

There may be written documents the testator had written which indicate something different from what was written in their will. If you find and verify such documents, they could offer valuable insight into what their true intentions were.

It could be that you find a journal entry which speaks of any undue pressure they experience to change it. Also, seek out any letters written to someone expressing their sincere wishes.

Medical Support

As we say, medical notes are important pieces of evidence. They can prove whether or not a person was in sound mind when creating their will.

Yet, they are also a testament to the testator’s health, age, and any disabilities that may impair their ability to make a sensible decision. Collect them from doctors or other medical professionals around in the time before the testator passes. Moreover, be sure to include notes showing which kinds of medications they may have been taking.

FOOTNOTES
All UK Written Wills
No Win No Fee*

*This is because you trust that the testator lacks the requisite mental capacity to write it.

**But are not limited to.

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.

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