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Contested Probate & Contesting a Will
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Will Dispute & Contentious Probate Solicitors Wales & Cheshire
Will Dispute Solicitors
A Will Disputes Solicitor specialises in providing legal advice to those who wish to contest a will, believe a will is invalid and to executors or beneficiaries of the will who are being challenged.
Disagreements over the administration of an estate can be very upsetting at what is already a very difficult time.
Our Will Dispute Solicitors have many years’ experience dealing with the complex legal issues which can arise from contested probate and will disputes.
If you are considering contesting a will or are currently involved in any type of will dispute or contentious probate claim, then getting specialist advice from an expert Will Disputes Solicitor will enable you to progress your case with the best representation in your corner.
We will guide you through what is often a testing and emotional process.
Grounds for Contesting a Will
When a will is contested, probate is halted to allow time to prove that either the will is invalid or that it fails to make 'reasonable financial provision' for someone who depended on the deceased financially but has not been adequately provided for in the will.
Valid reasons to contest the will include:
- The deceased was not in their right mind when they signed the will or they did not know what they were signing.
- The will was drawn up incorrectly
- The will wasn’t signed with valid witnesses present.
- The signature was forged
- The beneficiaries have a right to the estate but have either not been named or have not been adequately cared for in the will.
If you believe that the wishes of a loved one have not been properly expressed, or if you feel like you have been wrongly overlooked, we can provide the guidance and legal expertise to help you reach the desired outcome.
We pride ourselves on exceeding your expectations, and on providing the highest level of service to our clients.
Who has the right to contest a will?
A will can only be contested by ‘interested persons’ and there must be valid legal grounds to do so.
For example, you cannot contest your cousin’s will because you believe their estate should be divided differently.
The person contesting the will must be:
- a spouse
- a child
- a cohabitee or;
- a person who is expressly mentioned in the will, or a previous will.
Can I contest a will on behalf of someone else?
Yes, if someone is not able to contest the will themselves.
This could be the case if the person challenging the will is a child who believes that a will treats them unfairly but can also be possible in the case of an adult who is incapable of making a legal challenge.
Why might a will be invalid?
A will might be contested as being invalid if:
- it was not signed and witnessed correctly (a will must be signed by the person making it, and witnessed by two other people)
- the deceased did not fully understand what they were signing
- it was forged, or fraudulently created
- undue influence or pressure was placed on the deceased when they made the will
Why might someone not understand what they were signing?
This could be due to mental incapacity, or because you believe that the deceased did not read and understand the contents of the will properly (for example, if the will contains complex provisions).
To contest a will on the basis of mental incapacity, it is necessary to show that the person was incapable of making legal decisions about their financial situation. This could be the case if someone is suffering from a mental illness, such as dementia.
It is also possible to contest a will if you believe that the person was not able to fully understand the content of the will. Examples of this could be if the person did not speak English as their first language, or had a low literacy level, and would not have been able to understand more complicated legal language. This could also apply to someone with a visual impairment.
What is undue influence or pressure?
Sometimes suspicion can arise in relation to the role of a particular person in the creation of a will. Older or vulnerable people can be at risk from someone who takes on a dominant position over them at the time of making their will. Undue influence or pressure means that person uses their position to change the decisions made when making the will, so that, for example:
- the final will is substantially different to previous wills
- the contents of the will are significantly different to expectations
- a non-family member receives an unexpectedly large inheritance
Challenging an Unfair Will
UK law allows people to leave their assets to whoever they want, as long as there are reasonable provisions for spouses, children and co-habitants where a financial obligation is involved.
A will could treat you unfairly if:
- you were named in the will, but received less than you expected
- you were completely left out of the will, contrary to your expectations
- you were promised something by the deceased, which is not reflected in the will
- you were named in a previous will, but are no longer a beneficiary
- you were financially dependent on the deceased, which is not adequately provided for in the will
- you are owed money by the deceased, which is not reflected in the will
What to do if you are thinking about challenging a will?
If you are concerned about the way someone is acting in relation to an estate, we can also guide you through the process of challenging their actions. You can find details of who is dealing with an estate through the Probate Registry, as well as an estimate of the value of the estate.
You can also stop someone being granted the right to deal with an estate if you are worried about a will; this can allow you to find out more about the situation before any action is taken with the estate.
How do I find more information about a will?
You can find out whether someone has left a will by using the Probate Registry Online Search, providing you know the person's name and when they died. The Probate Registry can also provide information if a will has not been registered, but someone is dealing with the deceased's estate.
It is possible to take action if you feel that someone is trying to stop you from getting information about a will; our specialist solicitors can support you to force that person to disclose the relevant details.
What are the time limits for contesting a will?
As with almost all legal matters, the best advice is to deal with any issues as quickly as possible.
In the case of contesting a will, you would ideally start the process befor the grant of probate.
There are different time limits which do restrict your ability to contest a will, but the nature of a claim against an estate means that you should ensure that the property in question is secured, and that assets are not disposed of before you have a chance to make your claim.
Some types of claim have a time limit of 6 months from the date of probate being granted, so, if you have any concerns about a recent will, we advise that you contact us as soon as possible to start the process of securing your position.
The time limits for the most common types of claim are as follows:
- Inheritance act claims– Six months from the issue of the grant of probate
- Claim for maintenance – Six months from the issue of the grant of probate
- Beneficiary making claim against the will – 12 years from date of death
- Fraud – No time limit
How long does contesting a will take to resolve?
We always try to resolve disputes as quickly as possible. Contesting a will can take as little as a few weeks if the other beneficiaries agree with your claim; on the other hand, should the challenge not be accepted, it is possible that a lengthy process of mediation is required.
Typical steps when contesting a will include:
- investigating the claim and collecting evidence
- a method of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, to try and settle the claim
- a court hearing, if mediation is not successful
Our expert solicitors will work to settle your dispute without a potentially time-consuming court process, which can last for up to two years, and have extensive experience in successfully mediating claims relating to contested wills.
Paul Rossiter, Managing Director and founder of PSR Solicitors, personally handles all Will Disputes and Contentious Probate cases so you can be sure of the very best legal advice and representation.
We have great confidence in our ability to get you the right results.
If a court hearing does become necessary, however, we will ensure that you fully understand how the process will work, and how long each step might take. We have the expertise to successfully settle your dispute in court, should that be required, and are the right people to have by your side to make sure that the process is as smooth as possible.
How much will it cost to challenge a will?
Resolving a contested will claim through mediation is significantly less costly than a court hearing. Throughout the process, we will provide you with a detailed understanding of how long we think each step will take, and how much it is likely to cost. If the dispute can be settled through mediation, the allocation of the associated costs forms part of the agreement reached at the end of the process.
Should the matter require a court hearing, however, the court will decide who is responsible for the costs of the case.
Contesting a will can be very time consuming and complicted which means costs can be significant.
There are various ways in which the legal fees for contesting a will can be covered including:
- ‘No win, no fee’ agreements
- Fixed fee agreements
- Payment from the estate
- Payment from anything you receive from the estate at the end of the matter
Your Will Disputes Solicitor will discuss all the options with you at the outset.
Talk to a Contentious Probate Solicitor Today
Paul Rossiter is a leading Will Disputes & Contested Probate Solicitor in Wales and Cheshire, we can often quickly advise you on the likely success of your claim, once we have had a chance to talk with you and to understand the circumstances surrounding your claim.
Our goal is to secure justice for you at what is sure to be a difficult and emotional time, and our focus is on achieving that goal in the most efficient and stress-free way possible.
If you feel like you might have a claim, contact us today and discuss the details with us.
We will very quickly be able to reassure you about how we can support you most effectively.
How to best defend a contested will claim?
If you are the executor or beneficiary of a will that is being contested, our expertise across this area ensures that we are equally well-placed to advise you on defending your rights under a will.
Whether the challenge is being made to the validity of the will itself, to the degree of influence you may have had over the deceased, or is being brought by a family member who feels like they have been treated unfairly, our expert team will be able to help you.
Contact the expert Will Dispute Solicitors
As leading Will Dispute Solicitors in Cheshire and North Wales we have offices in Colwyn Bay, Ellesmere Port, Rhyl, Shotton and Wrexham and are always available for anyone advice in realtion to contentious estate administration.
Our friendly team will immediately put you at your ease and will explain everything in a clear straight-forward way, keeping you informed at all stages, to help minimise your stress and concern.
We regularly act for clients on contentious probate cases across North Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside, and Liverpool. We can support your needs wherever you live in Wales, England & Northern Ireland.
We will respond to any query within one hour of normal office hours, or the next working day if you contact us during the evening or at the weekend.
Mr U, Staffordshire
Miss G, North Wales
Mr J, Cheshire
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