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Disputes against wills may arise in a variety of situations where there are:

  • Invalid wills and/or negligent drafting
  • Issues of undue influence i.e. being put under pressure to leave items to others
  • Issues of lack of mental capacity i.e. not being of sound mind
  • Circumstances of fraud or forgery
  • Executors failing to properly carry out their duties and deal with the estate
  • Rectification of mistakes
  • Other issues arising between beneficiaries and executors

Our team has the experience and ability to guide you through the process, whether you are a trustee, executor or beneficiary.

Challenges to the validity of a will or codicil

For a will to be valid it must be signed by the testator (the person making the will) in the presence of two witnesses who must also each attest and sign the will.

Alternatively, the will can be signed in the presence of the testator and at his direction.

If any of these requirements are missing, the will is invalid.

If there were issues concerning the testator’s mental capacity when signing the will, or they may not have understood the extent of their estate, or the effect of making a will, then there may be grounds to challenge it on that basis.

Also, the will may be challenged if the testator was unduly influenced or pressurised by another when they made their will.

Inheritance Act claims

Certain categories of applicants can bring a claim pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (or the “Inheritance Act”) if they feel that the will or provision on intestacy (where the deceased did not leave any will) does not adequately provide for them.

The categories of applicants entitled to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act include spouses, co-habitants (if they have lived together for more than two years) children or persons treated as children of the deceased, or anyone financially dependent on the deceased at the time of their death.

The court will consider a lot of different factors when considering whether a person is eligible to bring a claim and whether they are entitled to be awarded anything. The court will take  articular note of the size of the estate and the financial circumstances of all those involved.

We have significant experience in dealing with Inheritance Act claims and we are able to act for disappointed beneficiaries, defending beneficiaries and executors.

Broken promises: proprietary estoppel claims

Were you promised something by someone who has died, but have not received it under their will?

If the deceased made a promise to you that has been broken, you may be able to bring a claim if you can establish the following:

  • That there was a promise
  • That you did something to rely on that promise
  • That what you did was to your detriment or you incurred a burden

Perhaps a disappointed beneficiary is claiming that the deceased made a promise to them that has been broken and you are an executor or another beneficiary.

No matter what your capacity we can advise and assist you in dealing with a proprietary estoppel claim.

Beneficial interest claims

It may be the case that the deceased owned property in his or her name, but that another person believes that they should have an interest in that property.

The basis of that belief could have arisen, either because of discussions that took place between the deceased, or arrangements with the deceased that took place during their life time.

We have extensive experience of advising clients upon pursuing and defending beneficial interest claims.

Trustee/executor disputes

It is not uncommon for disputes to arise between beneficiaries and executors over the way in which a deceased’s estate is being managed.

Beneficiaries may feel that the executor or trustee is not dealing with the estate quickly enough, is failing to keep proper accounts, or they may not be using monies or distributing monies or assets in the correct way. Either way we are experienced in dealing with all such circumstances and we will be able to advise beneficiaries of their options.

We also work with professional and individual trustees and executors. We can offer guidance to trustees and executors on their duties, rights and obligations, to ensure that they carry out their obligations properly and fully.

How our solicitors can help you

Seeking specialist legal advice at an early stage can be vital in trying to resolve matters thereby avoiding costly litigation proceedings and attempting to preserve relationships.

Our experienced specialist solicitors understand that dealing with a dispute can be a particularly stressful time. They aim to bring your claim to a successful and fair conclusion.

We treat every claim based on its specific, unique circumstances and ensure that an appropriate tailored approach is taken. We will provide you with a balance of sympathetic yet practical advice.

The costs involved in taking a claim to court can be high but we regularly use alternative dispute resolution as a means of bringing claims to a successful resolution whilst minimising costs and risk. Alternative dispute resolution can be a less stressful and emotional way of settling claims. Of course, however, we can take a dispute to court if that is a necessary and appropriate way of bringing a claim to a conclusion.

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