Advice about will disputes and contentious probate

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By AdFeatures | Wednesday, October 31, 2012, 07:57


Advice about will disputes and contentious probate

Whilst the vast majority of wills go through probate without any issues or problems, there are a number of wills that are contested and probate disputes made. According to Toby Lilleystone, a Legal Manager, the number of cases involving contentious probate is rising and people are increasingly calling upon the services of a probate lawyer to dispute a will. Research conducted by probate solicitors in 2007 revealed that the number of inheritance disputes reaching the High Court had increased from 83 cases in 2006 to 228 cases in 2007.

The reasons behind the growing number of probate disputes can be pinned to the fact that not only are the size of inheritances people are left with increasing but the structures of families are considerably more complex than they were several decades ago.

Contesting a will

A person’s will states who they want to leave their money and any assets such as property to when they die. When somebody challenges this allocation after a person is deceased, this is known as contesting a will. There are several reasons why a will might be challenged, the most common reasons include:

  • Fraud
  • Loss of mental ability by the person who wrote the will
  • Mistakes made on the will
  • The validity of the will
  • Undue influence

If you are a dependent of the deceased, a partner or a close family member who has been unfairly excluded from the will, you can approach probate lawyers who will advise you about making a claim against the deceased estate. Even if a will is valid, someone may make a claim against the solicitor who drafted the will if they believe it was drawn up negligently.

Contentious probate

There are several main issues that a solicitor has to deal with when acting for a beneficiary who is contesting probate matters, which include:

  • Tackling challenges to the appointment of executors
  • Defending Inheritance Act claims
  • Gathering information and accounts from executors and administrators
  • Addressing various issues regarding the validity of wills

Challenging wills and contentious probate is an extremely complex arena of law and to optimise your chances of a successful challenge and outcome it is advisable that you are represented by a lawyer who is specialised and experienced in probate law.

Will I have to pay for will disputes and contentious probate?

Many people worry that challenging something as complex as wills and probate will be expensive and time consuming. Whilst the latter might be correct, as such multifarious legal matters can take months or even years before they are concluded, probate solicitor representation need not be expensive. More often than not claims are made on a no win no fee basis, which means that the claimant does not have any financial responsibilities should the case be settled against their favour. In cases where their claim is successful, many lawyers will take their fees from the other side – meaning claimants still get 100% of the compensation.

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