Losing a loved one is difficult. Matters can be made worse when the estate of the deceased raises problems. In circumstances such as these, it is often best to reach an early and amicable settlement rather than litigating to trial.
Will, Probate and Inheritance Disputes
The will of the deceased can be challenged on a number of grounds, most commonly:
- There is a technical defect in the will itself, for example, it was not executed or witnessed properly.
- The deceased did not have mental capacity at the time he executed the will, for it to be valid.
- There was undue influence. The deceased made the will in the terms he did because of the threats or pressure by someone else.
- The will document is not genuine.
- The will was revoked and of no effect. For example, because the original will was destroyed or the deceased married after making the will.
Challenging a will is not easy and the court must see evidence to support the allegations made. Often, there is a great deal of witness evidence, and sometimes, medical evidence to support the allegations made.
Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
Certain classes of people can seek money or provision from the estate of the deceased, including:
- Spouses and civil partners
- Co-habitants (unmarried couples living together).
- Dependants/those who had been maintained by the deceased
To obtain an order of the court to receive something from the estate, the qualifying person it must prove that the will or intestacy failed to make reasonable financial provision for the maintenance of him
The standard of provision depends upon the category and status of the person claiming.
These types of claims can be difficult to predict as it is for the Judge to decide whether he thinks adequate provision has been made and whether the Claimant requires maintenance. A great deal of evidence must be provided to the court, in particular financial information about the circumstances of the person claiming.
These types of claims have a very short period of time in which to bring them so they must be pursued quickly. If a claim is not issued at court within six months of the Grant of Probate or Administration, the claim cannot be pursued without permission of the court. Permission to start a claim outside the six months is very difficult to obtain and unlikely. If you have any doubt as to whether you might be entitled to something from the estate of the deceased, you should take action straight away.
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Paul Hatton - Head of department
Paul takes pride in being a “problem solver” for his clients. In commercial litigation and employment matters he advises clients on a broad range of disputes and problems in the civil courts, striving to nip problems in the bud and minimise the impact on you or your business. Paul studied law at the University of Liverpool and qualified in 2005. He joined Dootsons in 2013, after working for law firms in Bolton and Altrincham, and became a Partner at Dootsons in May 2016. Paul is also an LSM accredited mediator.