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.

Writing A DIY Will

There are many things to consider when writing your Will. Whether to use a professional Will-writing service or write a DIY Will is one of the considerations. If you choose to write your own Will, there are a number of things you must do in order to make sure it is legally valid.

The most important thing that you need to do when writing your own Will is make sure you know what the law requires. If you do not do this correctly, your Will may be invalid or ineffective.

To be valid, a DIY Will, or holograph Will, as it is known in legal terms, must be executed in accordance with the requirements of section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. In this, the Will must be “Signed by the testator (the person making the Will) with the intention of it giving effect to their Will in the presence of two witnesses, who each sign the Will in the presence of the testator.” There are new rules due to the pandemic, which state you may now also use video witnessing for your Will.

You also need to be of sound mid to write your Will. It is important when writing your Will as it proves that what you write in your Will is what you actually want.

You must also make sure that, when you write your Will, you use terminology that is clear and avoids ambiguity in the eyes of the law. The Will must clearly state your wishes and you must use the correct terminology to avoid the Will being found to be invalid.

What Needs to go in a DIY Will?

If you choose to write your own Will, there are a number of things that you must include. These things are:

  • Your personal information (full name, current address, date of birth, details of any children you have and their dates of birth, relationship status)
  • Your estate (the items of value you own, either alone or joint with someone else. This includes property, accounts, stocks and shares, or any foreign property)
  • Any debts
  • Your beneficiaries (including the names and addresses of the beneficiaries)
  • If you wish to leave any gifts to charity
  • Your executors (you can choose one or more than one)
  • Legal guardians for your children (if you have any under 18)
  • Your other wishes (such as Trustees or funeral wishes)

If A DIY Will is Invalid

When a DIY Will is invalid, then the previous Will, if there was one, would be the legal Will. If there is no previous Will, then the Rules of Intestacy come into effect. These rules place family members in order of who should inherit your estate. This order is decided by the law.  It can also lead to lengthy legal disputes for families. So it is vital to make sure that your Will is written exactly how it would be if you used a professional Will-writing service.

How we can help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience in dealing with all manner of inheritance cases. This includes issues with DIY Wills. Contact us today by filling in our contact form or by calling us on 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.

Rise in Making A Will due to the Pandemic

Before the pandemic, less than half of UK adults had made a Will. This has since risen during COVID-19, with a rise in enquiries concerning making a Will of 75% since the start of the pandemic. The Financial Times reported in March that some law firms saw enquiries double in the first few weeks of lockdown.

This is no surprise as the worry of losing a loved one has been at the front of many minds during the pandemic. Many people may have also thought about making sure they care for their loved ones should something happen to them. Thus leading more people to think about making a Will.

Making A Will During the Pandemic

We reported back in August that video Will practices have now been made legal. This is a temporary measure until January 2022. This refers to the fact that it is now legal to have a witnessing of a Will made by video, by two witnesses. The video will witness news comes amidst an effort to limit the necessity of in-person witnessing of wills due to social distancing precautions. The temporary measures include any Will written from 31st January 2020

There are certain rules to this temporary amendment of the law. These rules include:

  • Making sure the audio and video are both clear
  • Ensuring that the witnesses can actually see them signing the Will
  • There must be a clear line of sight of the Will
  • Treat this option as a last resort

There are also some exclusions from the temporary change. You can find out more information about the temporary rules here.

Rise in Gifts Left to Charity in Wills

Not only has their been a rise in people making a Will, more people have been donating to charity in their Wills. This could be thanks, in part, to people like Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised over £33 million for the NHS during the first lockdown. People wanting to remember a charity that means a lot to them could be another contributing factor.

We have written previously about leaving gifts to charity in Wills, and, with many charities having to pause or stop their work due to lockdown or restrictions, they may now need donations more than ever.

There are statistics that state that, during lockdown, the amount of money left in Wills as legacy donations surged to £35 million. This is compared to around £4 million previously. This is a positive step, as charities rely heavily on legacy donations to continue the work that they do.

How We Can Help

Ultimately, people want to make sure that they care for their loved ones after they die. This is the main reason that many people choose to make a Will. Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of enquiries. This includes enquiries about Wills. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly, knowledgeable advisors.

A Brief Guide to Trust Wills

A Trust Will is one of the three main types of Will that you can make. They provide an extra level of protection of your assets for the people you want to leave something to.

When is a Trust Will Used?

A Trust is a legal structure that you can include as part of your Will. They are most seen in circumstances such as:

  • Where you wish to protect your estate against possible future care fees
  • When you have a spouse or partner, but have children from a previous relationship
  • When you wish to leave some of your estate to a vulnerable or disabled person

Types of Trust Wills

There are three types of trust Will. These are property Wills, life interest Wills, and discretionary Wills.

Property

A property trust Will can help you if you have a property which you wish to protect for future generations. It can guarantee who benefits from your property if your surviving partner remarries after you die, or if they write a new Will after your death. It can also help reduce the potential impact of future residential care fees on a home.

Anyone who owns property with someone else can have a property trust Will. This is true whether they are married, unmarried or in a civil partnership.

Life Interest

A life interest trust Will can help if you have significant investments or assets as well as property which you wish to protect for future generations. It can guarantee who benefits from cash assets and investments if your partner remarries after your death, or writes a new Will after your death. It also allows you to pick a nominated person to benefit from the income generated from your investments if you die, whilst also protecting the capital value.

Anyone who holds cash assets and investments who wishes to take care of a nominated person, but also help protect the value of investments for a specific person can have a life interest trust Will.

Discretionary

A discretionary trust Will can help if you wish to appoint trustees to manage the inheritance of vulnerable people in your Will. It can guarantee that there is someone to help any vulnerable people manage their inheritance. It also reduces the potential risk of their inheritance compromising their state benefits.

Anyone who wishes to leave inheritance to loved ones who lack the mental or physical capacity to look after their own affairs, loved ones who have a disability and run the risk of their benefit entitlement being compromised, or loved ones who are in a vulnerable position can have a discretionary trust Will.

Trust Will Disputes

Unfortunately, there are situations where a trust Will may be disputed. This can happen when one of the trustees misinterprets the intentions of the trust, for example. If you want to challenge a Trust, then talk to The Inheritance Experts, as we may be able to help.

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we know how important it is for people to get their Will in correct order. If you are looking for advice on Wills, contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Explaining Probate: Define an Essential Inheritance Matter

Explaining the Probate Application

When a person dies, it is necessary by law that all of their personal affairs must be put in order. Below are our thoughts on probate define, as part of our guidance on what commonly happens with a probate challenge.

This is ‘Probate’ and includes ensuring that their estate receives finalisation. The person who finalises the estate is their Executor. However, the executor only has the right to access the testator’s estate once they apply.

In this guide, we will explain what probate is. Especially:

  • the grant of probate;
  • what the purpose of it is;
  • how long the probate process typically takes in the UK and;
  • why probate is necessary to deal with the deceased person’s situation.

Probate: Define why it’s necessary

Also known as ‘Confirmation’ in Scotland, probate definition is the legal process of executing a will and settling a testator’s* estate.

It is important to know that the term ‘estate’ does not simply refer to any property the testator owns. It also includes:

  • making an inheritance tax return to HMRC and paying the tax due;
  • their possessions;
  • their cash holdings and; any land they may own, as well as;
  • any financial obligations they have, including the repayment of loans, child maintenance and the like.

The purpose of probate is to give the executor the legal right to handle the testator’s estate and to make executive decisions on their behalf. Another term for this type of person is Personal Representatives.

Probate: Define What It Does

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

  1. Finalise all bills and close the testator’s accounts;
  2. Settle debts they did not pay in full yet;
  3. Sell or transfer property the testator owns;
  4. Liquidate or gather assets in all their forms;
  5. Calculate and pay the Inheritance Tax;
  6. Pay any remaining income tax (if applicable);
  7. Distribute the estate as the will outlines, or as the government decrees.

Who Can Apply?

The person who serves as the executor of the will is most often the one who applies for Probate. Executors tend to gain their role through declaration in the will.

However, the situation might arise where the Executor dies. Accordingly, an Executor might also not get a declaration in the will. Moreover, there might not be a will in the first place.

In these cases, the following people can apply for probate instead:

  1. The testator’s surviving spouse. Additionally, this can be done regardless of if the couple is in separation at the time of death.
  2. Also, the children of the testator can apply;
  3. Finally, any other close family members.

If you believe the person who applies for probate is not fit to administer the estate, you can contest it. You can also contest a will if you have a valid reason, but this should be done with the advice and aid of specialist solicitors.

You should be aware though of what happens if you contest a will and take it to court without a reasonable chance of winning. Accordingly, there is a good chance you will be wholly liable for the cost of taking such action. Moreover, that includes the costs of the other side and the court costs.

Probate: Define Who Can Apply

The person who has the right to apply for probate^ can either:

  • apply online through the government website or;
  • hire probate solicitors to do so on their behalf.

If there is no will, the process is similar, but instead of probate, you would instead apply for Letters of Administration. There’s also the matter of an intestate estate, in which the will parties present to the probate court nevertheless earns an invalid declaration.

When you apply, you will need the following information to send in either online or through post as part of the process of administering:

  1. The original Will;
  2. The original Death Certificate or Interim Death Certificate;
  3. Confirmation of an estimate of the estate’s value, critical for estate planning, real estate issues and more.

You will also have to to fill out a few forms. Which forms those consist of in particular will depend on which nation within the UK the testator lives.

For example, suppose the testator lives in England or Wales. In that case, you’ll need to fill out the PA1P application if they have a will. If there is no will, instead it will be the PA1A application.

In Scotland, these forms are officially the C1 and C5 documents.

Once you apply, you will need to send the original documents to the local Probate Registry. You’ll also send along:

  • a fee of £215 if the estate’s potential worth is greater than £5,000.
  • However, if the estate’s potential worth is under £5000, there is no fee to pay.

Probate: Define when it’s not necessary

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

How we can help with probate

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

At The Inheritance Experts, we work with law firms who specialise in handling wills and probate. For probate purposes, this means they can effectively support and assist you through all stages of the process.

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

*A testator is another way of saying a deceased person for whom the will is made for.

^For example, those who are named by either the executor or a close living relative.

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.

< class="stagered_content__item-title" >

Why you should draw up a will

Ah, Wills: it may seem like something you don’t need to do for a long time. Yet there are multiple reasons why you should consider drawing up a will now.

For example, if you have children, a will can clearly state who your child(ren)’s legal guardians would be. Also, who you would want to take care of them in the event anything were to happen to you.

Similarly, you can also specify how those guardians bring up your child(ren) too. For example: should they go to religious schools for their education? Will the child(ren)’s grandparents have access rights?

In addition, you can also use your will to specify what your wishes are for your funeral. This does not simply have to be whether you choose burial or cremation. It can also include

  • any songs to play during the ceremony;
  • where you like the ceremony to be held, and;
  • what you would like to happen to your ashes if you do choose cremation.

Other things you can do in a Will

Some people also use their will to specify that they want to donate their body to a medical research facility, such as the UK Biobank. Or they specify that they wish to donate their organs, too. On this, we would say that you should speak to your friends and family about your wishes too though.

Furthermore, by drawing up a will, you can also state clearly who you want to get what aspects of your estate. To be clear, a person’s ‘estate’ does not refer solely to any property they own, such as a house or a flat, but also all of their possessions and any money, including the contents of ISAs, saving bonds and any investments.

Decide on property division through Wills

Therefore, through Wills, you can leave your property to your direct next of kin. That might mean your spouse or your child(ren), while also leaving individual possessions to specific people inside and outside of your family.

For example, say you have an ornament in a display cabinet that your best friend admires. With a will, you could henceforth specify that they get it once you pass away. Similarly, you might share a hobby with one of your grandchildren (stamp collecting, perhaps). Accordingly, your will can specify that he/she gets your collection when you pass away. Rather than leaving it up to the frailties of common sense to prevail after your death.

On this, it is worth noting that, if you were to die intestate, the rules regarding statutory legacy changed recently.

It makes sense then to draw up a will. It ensures they divide your estate as you wish; therefore, you’re also helping to squelch the possibility that the division of your estate leads to a dispute following your death.

Accordingly, we’d suggest that it will also help those you leave behind. Rather than having to divide your belongings and the potential squabbles this could cause, they can instead focus on grieving your passing.

What you should do about Wills

In the first instance, make sure that you get a will drawn up! Depending upon the complexity of the will you want to draw up, this needn’t cost the earth either. In fact, a simple will could cost you from around £80 to have drawn up depending upon the firm you use.

But a specialist will involving the creation of trusts, overseas properties, etc, cost over £500 to draw up. On this, please note that national laws may apply if you own land and property in other countries. For example, if you own land or property in Italy, Italian law states that this passes automatically to your children upon your death.

However, say one of your family members dies without having left a will (known as ‘dying intestate’). Or you feel that a family member’s will treats you unfairly and the estate is now in dispute. It’s a good idea to speak to someone with experience in the areas of contesting a will or contesting probate.

More About Us

At The Inheritance Experts, we work with specialist legal firms who have a proven track record in handling wills and probate matters. This means they are able to help you get the proportion of the estate you deserve. After your initial consultation with our advisors, which is done on a free no-obligation basis, we will match you with the firm that best suits the circumstances of your claim.

If you believe you are due a portion of an estate and want to know if you have a fair and realistic claim to some or all of it, do not hesitate to get in touch with The Inheritance Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

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