Appointments can be held by video call, by phone or in person at one of our local offices.

The Will to win an inheritance dispute...

Paul Rossiter
Posted by: Paul Rossiter Managing Director

The Will to win an inheritance dispute ..and the team to make it happen!

 

Probate claims and disputes relating to the inheritance of an individual’s estate after their death, are far more common than you may think.  Not only are they likely to be upsetting and emotionally charged situations, but they can also drag on for some time.  So, whether you are challenging probate or defending a claim, make sure that you choose a team of probate specialist with a long track record of success.

We’re all living longer and we’re all accumulating wealth. Whilst this is a fabulous endorsement of society and healthcare, it does mean that there are more and more arguments and disputes regarding the legacies we leave behind.

This seems to be especially frequent if the departed has suffered from any form of dementia or has drafted a D-I-Y Will, without any professional legal advice.

Here at PSR Solicitors, we thought that this article and overview may help those facing any issues resulting in the outcome of a Will.

We do not cover every point where a claim may occur, but have written this to provide some helpful insight into the more common areas of dispute.

trust signals for Google E-A-T crop.png

 

Frequent causes of disagreements

From our experience, most of the probate arguments that lead to claims being made are:

  • Legally Witnessed – was there a failure to properly witness and sign the Will correctly? This is far more common now as many people are producing D-I-Y Wills, with no professional legal back up.
     
  • Coercion and Deceit - where one beneficiary, or a third party, has influenced the Will maker against the interest of others, negatively impacting on those who believe they have a right to all or part of the estate.
     
  • Of Sound Mind – was the individual mentally able to make the decisions that were made regarding the Will? This is particularly important as society is living longer and dementia and mental capacity issues are impacting more and more on inheritance claims. Did they fully understand the contents and implications of the Will?
     
  • Forgery – Was any part of the Will, or the signatures, forged?

There are also some very complex causes

As legal action in this area increases, there have been a growing number of challenging cases linked to:

  • Unconventional Family Structures – the family unit has changed so much over the years with more divorces, remarriages, cohabiting and living with children from other marriages. As these complex family dynamics increase, there is every chance that older Wills may not have predicted or accounted for them and therefore these multifaceted family units are not properly taken into account.
     
  • Broken Promises – known legally as a ‘Proprietary Estoppel’. These are usually concerned with property, where the claimant has been acting against their best interests because a promise of later reward was made to them, which hasn’t featured in the Will.
     
  • Professional Negligence – claims against those who drafted the Will or those who are controlling the estate.
     
  • Ownership and Lifetime Gifts – these including disputes regarding who actually has the legitimate ownership of certain items bequeathed in the Will.

 

Whatever the argument, there is usually a resolution

As complicated as all this may seem at first glance, it’s worth noting that the law is fairly prescriptive in its general principles of inheritance and probate.

In English and Welsh law, there is a rule called The Principle of Testamentary Freedom. Which essentially means, as long as the Will is correctly executed, any individual is free to leave all or part of their estate to whomever they want, without any legal obligations to include, or provide for, any specific family members or individuals. All this assumes that they have the mental capacity to understand their actions and they do so under their own freewill.  

However, even if the above requirements are met, and the Will is legally and correctly prepared, if any aggrieved person feels that it doesn’t provide a 'reasonable financial provision' for them, then a claim can be made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.  

The successful prosecution or defence of any claim will materially depend upon the unique circumstances surrounding the Will and the estate; as well as the experience and ability of your legal team.

At PSR Solicitors we will always put your best interests first, both financially and emotionally. We pride ourselves on our jargon-free and client focused approach.

We’re a plain talking independent firm that’s large enough to have all the probate specialists you’ll need underneath the roof of one of our seven offices.

If you have a probate problem, and could do with having a quick chat to one of our expert team, we’d be more than happy to give you a free overview of your individual circumstances.

Nia Edwards, who heads up our specialist wills and probate team, would be delighted to help you with any actions you wish to take. Contact her today, as it’s amazing how much better you’ll feel once you’ve taken that first step.

 

 

Nia Edwards

LLB (HONS) LAW DEGREE

Solicitor - Head of Private Client & Probate

I am Head of ‘Private Client’ at PSR Solicitors, based in our Shotton office. I undertake various types of legal services such as Wills and Probate, Estate Administration, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Landlord & Tenant as well as Divorce and family matters.

 

Contact Nia

Tel:        01244 810 830
Email:   nia.edwards@psrsolicitors.co.uk

 

 

Contact PSR to get started…

Tell us a little about your legal issue and one of our Solicitors will contact you to discuss how we can help you and also advise you of the costs involved.

Appointments can be arranged by phone, Zoom or Skype video call or in person at one of our local offices.

  • Fixed Fees
  • 5 Star Google satisfaction ratings
  • Law Society Accredited Solicitors
  • Personable, Professional & Reliable

This data will only be used by PSR Solicitors Ltd for processing your query and for no other purpose.