In this section our contentious probate solicitors answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive in regard to contesting a Will.
Our team of contentious probate solicitors have helped many clients over the years to resolve their Will disputes using mediation and other methods of resolution. We have one of the largest teams of private client solicitors in the South, with offices located in Bournemouth, Poole, Salisbury, Winchester and Southampton.
What is contentious Probate?
Contentious probate describes when a dispute arises pertaining to the administration of an individual’s estate after death. This includes questioning the validity of the Will, management of the estate by the executor/s and disagreements among beneficiaries.
We have an experienced team of contentious probate lawyers here at Trethowans who are happy to answer all your enquiries and help you resolve your Will dispute.
Can I contest a Will?
According to Probate law, a Will can only be contested by family members, or any others mentioned in the deceased’s Will or previous Will. In order to contest a Will, there must be sufficient legal reason to do so:
- The Will was not executed correctly
- The deceased did not have mental capacity when writing their Will
- The deceased was subject to undue influence at the time of writing their Will
- There is evidence of fraud or forgery
How do I contest a Will?
If you feel that you have a valid reason to contest a Will, then you should contact an expert Probate solicitor for further legal advice and guidance. They will be able to tell you if your case is worth pursuing further.
Our expert contentious probate solicitors can provide knowledgeable advice on how to proceed and what steps you should take next.
How long do I have to contest a Will?
The time limits you have to contest a Will vary case-by-case, though as a general rule, the quicker you are the better. It is always advisable to act as soon as you have doubt, and before a Grant of Probate has been issued.
For further information about how long you have to bring your claim, contact Trethowans’ contentious probate lawyers today.
How long does it take to contest a Will?
When it comes Will disputes, there is no one answer for how long the process will take from start to finish. Claims can take anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years, depending on the circumstances of the dispute.
Will I need to go to court to contest a Will?
Contesting a Will does not always result in a Court appearance – it may be resolved through Mediation or another form of dispute resolution. However, if an agreement cannot be agreed at the caveat stage, then court proceedings may be issued.
As experts in dispute resolution, we aim to resolve all Will disputes before they reach the Courts. However, if your dispute does need to be taken to Court, rest assured that we can organise representation.
What do I do if I think a Will is invalid?
If you believe that a Will is invalid, then you should talk to a solicitor as soon as possible. If a Will is ultimately found to be invalid, the deceased’s estate will be divided up in accordance with the previous valid Will. If there is no previous Will, then the estate will be divided up according to Intestacy Rules.
What do I do if no Will has been left?
If someone dies without a Will, they have died ‘intestate’. In this scenario, Intestacy Law will determine how the estate is fairly divided. In order to begin the process, a relative or friend of the deceased will need to apply for a Grant of Probate. This grants them the title of ‘administrator’ and allows them to value the estate, ensure any debts are paid and distribute the estate according to Intestacy Rules.
If you need assistance with applying for Probate or estate administration, don’t hesitate to contact our expert contentious probate solicitors – at an emotional time, we ensure that the process is as stress-free as possible.
What is a Caveat?
Filing a Caveat is the first step in contesting a Will. This is a notice filed at Court that prevents Probate from being granted without the creator being consulted first. A Caveat lasts six months from the date of entry but it is possible to extend them.
Once a Caveat has been submitted, the individual applying for Probate will be notified and put in contact with the caveator, so that discussions towards resolving the dispute can commence.
What do I do if I have been left out of a Will?
If you have been left out of a Will against your expectations, then you may be able to challenge it. The question is not the validity of the Will, but whether it makes ‘reasonable financial provision’. Firstly, you must fall under one of the following categories:
- A spouse or civil partner of the deceased
- A former spouse or civil partner if the deceased did not remarry
- A child of the deceased
- An individual treated as a child of the deceased
- A person maintained by the deceased before death
The law is contained in The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
In order for a claim to be successful, the Court must be satisfied that sufficient financial provision has not been provided for you. The contentious probate team can help you progress your Will dispute and give you the best possible guidance.
How do I remove an Executor?
It is the role of an Executor to ensure that the deceased’s estate is divided up correctly in accordance with their Will. If you are a beneficiary and believe that the Executor is not administrating the estate properly, then it is possible to apply to the Court to have them substituted.
Our contentious probate solicitors can give your further advice when it comes to removing an Executor. Contact us on 0800 2800 421 for more information.
What is proprietary estoppel?
Proprietary estoppel claims arise when an individual believes that land or property, often agricultural, should have been passed down to them by the deceased. In order for a proprietary estoppel claim to be considered valid, the claimant must be able to demonstrate.
- A promise was made by the deceased that the claimant would receive the land or farm;
- The claimant made important decisions based on this promise being fulfilled; and
- The claimant has been made to suffer detriment as a result.