Specialist advice at a difficult time
Normally, when a person dies, their estate is distributed among the beneficiaries according to the terms of the Will. However, there is a range of circumstances where you may be able to challenge a Will where you feel you have been wrongly left out.
Our solicitors are accredited in the Law Society Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme for our work specialising in Will and inheritance disputes.
Realising that you have been left out of a Will can be very distressing and frustrating. Reasons for the exclusion might include:
- The deceased made the decision to disinherit you when they made their Will
- You used to be a beneficiary, but then the deceased made a new Will to disinherit you
- The deceased did not leave a Will at all, and you cannot inherit under the Rules of Intestacy (for example, because you are their unmarried partner)
- You are named as a beneficiary under a Will, but the estate is apparently insolvent, meaning you receive no inheritance
- You are named as a beneficiary under a Will or trust, but have missed out because of mismanagement of the probate and estate/trust administration process
- The deceased’s latest Will has gone missing, and you are not a beneficiary under the old Will
These are all situations which could understandably leave you feeling uncertain, confused and even hopeless.
However, there is always hope. Even if the matter seems cut and dry, you may have options for contesting the Will. For example, if the deceased made a new Will to disinherit you, you may be able to prove the new Will is invalid and that the old one should be applied.
Another option is to make a claim for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Our inheritance dispute lawyers can help you bring or defend all kinds of Will disputes. We advise all individuals, including:
- People who think they should be a beneficiary
Get in touch with our inheritance dispute solicitors
Rely on us to help you out during this difficult time. Our inheritance dispute solicitors can help you take all sorts of action, from taking legal action to contest a Will to make a claim under the Inheritance Act.
Give us a call at your local branch in Stroud, Dursley or Gloucester, or fill in our online enquiry form for a quick response.
How our inheritance dispute lawyers can help
Click here to read about time limits for contesting a Will.
Challenging the validity of a Will
Anyone can make a Will, but it must comply with strict legal rules to be valid. If it’s not valid, it can be set aside and either:
- An older Will applies; or
- The Rules of Intestacy apply.
There are many reasons why a Will may not be valid. For example, if someone placed undue influence on the deceased to force them to change their Will to disinherit you.
If you are in a situation where you have been disinherited because the deceased made a new Will and left you out, we are here to help.
We can provide advice about whether you have grounds for challenging a Will and represent you if you want to make a legal claim.
Read more about Challenging the Validity of a Will.
Locating a missing Will
If you believe that you are the beneficiary of a Will that appears to have gone missing, we can help. We can provide advice about your options for locating the Will and challenging any probate or estate administration processes that have been started using an old Will or under the Rules of Intestacy.
It is extremely frustrating if you are a beneficiary of an estate, but you don’t receive your inheritance due to negligence or a mistake by the executors or administrators.
Executors and administrators are legally bound to deal with the estate in line with the Will or under the Rules of Intestacy. They must handle the probate process diligently with the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries in mind at all times.
If an executor or administrator breaches their duty of care – for example, they mismanage the deceased’s money so you don’t receive as much inheritance as you should – you may be able to make a legal claim.
We can help with any disputes relating to probate and the estate administration process. We’ll advise you of your beneficiary rights, your legal options, and whether your claim is likely to be successful.
Inheritance Act claims
If you have been left out of a Will, not left as much as you need, or the deceased did not leave a Will, meaning you received nothing, and you were a close family member or dependant of the deceased, you may be able to make a claim for reasonable financial provision (your share of the inheritance) under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Our Inheritance Act claims solicitors can provide advice on how to make a claim, your prospects for success, and any other options you may have. We can also bring and defend Inheritance Act claims on your behalf.
The case of Ilott v Mitson is a good illustration of the type of claim that can be made under the 1975 Act. Here, a long estranged daughter made a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 against her deceased mother’s estate because she had been disinherited, even though she was not financially reliant upon her mother.
The background of the case
The estate, which had total assets of just under £500,000, was left by the mother, a Mrs Jackson, to three animal charities (the RSPCA, the RSPB and The Blue Cross).
During her lifetime, the mother had no real interest in these charities. The mother made a Will and also made a point of leaving a letter explaining why she disinherited her only child. The reason she explained was because her daughter had left home at age 17 to be with a man (whom she later married) of whom the mother had disapproved, causing the estrangement.
In the first instance, the judge allowed the daughter’s claim and made an award. The Court of Appeal then increased the daughter’s award, but the charities appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court did not agree with the Court of Appeal and reinstated the decision made by the first instance judge – the daughter was awarded £50,000.
This case is a good illustration of the type of claim that can be made under the Act – Inheritance Act claims are difficult, but it is possible to secure an award if argued correctly.
So, if you are involved in a dispute over a Will or have suspicions over how a Will was prepared, it is important to contact a contentious probate expert. Our Inheritance Act solicitors are here to help.
Time limits for contesting a Will
The time limits for contested probate actions vary depending upon the type of claim. If you run out of time to bring your claim, it can cause a lot of problems. So, it is worth speaking to a solicitor as soon as possible to check whether you can make a claim.
If you want to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, you generally have six months from the grant of probate.
A beneficiary making a claim against an estate is time barred after 12 years has elapsed from the date of death of the testator.
Can you contest a Will after the grant of probate?
Yes, but for many practical reasons, it is better not to wait because once probate has been granted, the Will’s Executors will start to deal with the assets of the estate and, in time, start to dispose of the assets in accordance with the terms of the Will. If you wish to challenge a Will or make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, act immediately.
Get in touch with our inheritance dispute solicitors
Rely on us to help you out during this difficult time. Our inheritance dispute solicitors can help you take all sorts of action, from taking legal action to contest a Will to making a claim under the Inheritance Act.
Give us a call at your local branch in Stroud, Dursley or Gloucester, or fill in our contact form below.