Inheritance disputes – have I really got a claim?
The death of a loved one is always distressing, and disputes arising around subsequent inheritances can only make the situation even more difficult.
Tim Jones reassures those finding themselves in this upsetting position that solicitors can often provide help and advice. Here he outlines some of the most common questions he is asked around inheritance and offers his answers:
Q: Can I challenge the validity of a Will?
Yes, the validity of a Will can be challenged for a number of reasons. Those reasons include, but are not limited to:
- Whether the person making the Will lacked the necessary degree of understanding as to the nature of their act in making a Will.
- Whether the signing and witnessing of a Will complies with long-established statutory requirements. Failure to comply with those requirements will invalidate the Will.
- Whether the person making the Will was influenced by a third party (often a family member) to make a Will on particular terms against their own true wishes.
Advice should be sought without delay if concerns arise about the circumstances in which a Will was prepared or signed.
Q: Where do I start when it comes to challenging a Will?
The first thing to do is to try to obtain a copy of the Will and other related documents. You can sometimes encounter resistance with this and sometimes it is also a case of establishing whether a Will actually exists. If you get in touch with us early on, we are often
able to assist.
Q: Even if a Will is legally valid, am I able to challenge its contents?
There are certain categories of person who may apply to the court for provision from the deceased’s estate if they consider that the Will (or the ‘Intestacy Rules’ if the deceased has left no valid Will) does not make reasonable financial provision for them.
Where a claim is made, the court will first consider whether or not the person bringing the claim has been reasonably provided for by the deceased upon their death (taking into account a range of relevant considerations) if not, the court will then go on to consider the level of provision that should be made for that person from the estate.
A claim must be brought within six months from the grant of probate (the document the executors have to obtain after the death to enable them to administer the estate). Advice should therefore be sought without delay.
Q: How do I know if I have got a viable claim?
This may be hard to predict because no two cases are the same, but this is a good reason to take professional advice from a solicitor as soon as possible so that we can help explain your options.
Q: Will I have to go to court if I bring a claim?
Contesting matters through the court system can be time-consuming and costly. For this reason, many disputes regarding Wills are resolved by agreement between the parties, without the need to attend court. We will always explore whether or not an out-of-court resolution is possible for our clients. Each case is unique and we offer a bespoke service based on your needs and circumstances.
If you have an inheritance dispute you wish to discuss with us, please get in touch with our experienced team of solicitors who are available to help advise you. Our aim is to resolve your dispute as swiftly as possible and in a proportionate, cost-effective manner.
A version of this article was published online in Derbyshire Life.Back to News