Contesting a Will is often a particularly fraught and emotional process.
We offer a sympathetic approach to our clients while at the same time representing their interests in a robust manner to achieve the best possible results in the shortest amount of time.
Contentious Probate often involves particularly complex areas of law but whatever your individual circumstances it is likely that our team has dealt with similar matters in the past and so we are expertly placed to help you.
Meaby&Co is a full-service law firm which means that we are able to draw on expertise from across all of our departments to cover the entire range of issues that may affect you.
We are able to act for individual beneficiaries, trustees, executors, administrators or charities, as either claimant or defendant.
What is Contentious Probate?
Contentious probate or contesting a Will arises when there is a dispute relating to the administration of the deceased’s estate. Disputes between beneficiaries occur most often if there are doubts as to:
- The validity of a Will
- The value of the assets contained within the will, or
- One or more parties claim that the deceased has failed to provide for them, or
- There are concerns as to the honesty of those involved in the execution or administration of the Will.
Our lawyers will guide you through this sensitive situation and address your questions and concerns. We are experienced in advising family members and ensuring that your loved one’s intentions are realised as best as they can be.
Can I contest a Will?
You can contest a Will if you believe the process of making the Will failed to comply with the law or if you believe there were other issues sufficient to prove the Will is invalid. There are a number of things that you have to comply with in order for a Will to be valid.
Is the Will valid?
For a Will to be valid it must have been, made in writing, voluntarily and without influence. The person who wrote the Will must have been over the age of 18, of sound mind, in the presence of two witnesses. The two witnesses must have signed the Will, in the presence of the person who created the Will and of course the person making the Will must have signed it also.
What law regulates the making of a Will?
The main piece of legislation is the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. If the claim is that the Will did not make sufficient provision then the Act sets out who can claim. The act also sets out what they might reasonably expect to receive if a claim is successful. You may be entitled to claim if you feel you didn’t receive what you expected to.
It is important to be aware that there are rigid time restrictions if you do wish to claim. Any claim must be made within 6 months of the grant of probate or letters of administration (if the deceased did not make a Will).
Can I bring a claim for contentious probate?
To make a claim under this Act, you must be a person who fits into one of the categories of people listed in the Act (section 1(1)).
These categories are:
- A spouse of the person who has passed away.
- A former spouse of the person who has passed away, ONLY if you have not remarried.
- A partner who lived with the deceased for at least 2 years immediately before the death.
- A child of the person who has passed away.
- A person who was treated as a child of the family by the person who passed away.
- Someone who was supported financially (partly or totally) by the person who has died.
If you can apply one of those categories to your particular circumstances then you are one step closer to being able to make a claim. The next thing to check is whether or not you have reasonable grounds to make a claim. These grounds are:
- The Will does not accord with the deceased’s wishes.
- There was a mistake of fact, for example by the lawyers.
- The deceased lacked capacity and didn’t fully understand the meaning and defect of what was in the Will, for example they had dementia.
- The Will was made under undue influence.
- The Will was not executed properly
- You feel that you were unfairly treated and not left enough or left out of the Will and you were maintained by the deceased.
If you can apply one of those grounds to your own situation, you may be able to claim under the Act and contest the Probate.
What should I do if I feel I have the right to claim?
If you feel like you’ve been left out of a Will incorrectly, or if there is someone contesting a Will and you want to defend your position, the first thing to do is to contact us as soon as possible. Remember it is important to get the correct advice and to act quickly.
We know that dealing with such problems while grieving is difficult and painful – our lawyers are on hand to minimise the stress for you.