Will, Probate & Estate Disputes
Have you been left out of a Will? Are you an Executor or Administrator representing an Estate facing a dispute, or perhaps you are a Beneficiary of a Will whose right to an inheritance is being challenged? Eric Robinson Solicitors is here to help.
It is always distressing when a loved one dies. Such distress can be exacerbated where there are legal issues about their Will or their Estate. For example, there may be uncertainty about the validity of the Will or maybe a claim is being made against the Estate by a third party. You may not have received from the deceased’s Estate something they had promised you, or that you were due to receive under the terms of the Will. Sometimes concerns arise about the way in which a family member’s Will was prepared or signed, and you want to investigate the circumstances to try and understand why you may have been excluded or left a smaller inheritance than you had anticipated or were promised. Alternatively, somebody else may be challenging the validity of the Will or making a claim for a share of the deceased’s estate.
At Eric Robinson Solicitors we have many years’ experience of dealing professionally and sensitively with potential disputes or queries arising out of Wills or Estates. This experience includes helping clients answer questions such as:
Is the Will valid?
There may be doubt over whether the Will has been properly executed, or whether the deceased really understood what they were signing because of a physical or mental illness. Alternatively, when the Will was signed the deceased may have been vulnerable or put under undue pressure to sign. In those circumstances there may be a potential challenge to the Will’s validity.
Has the Will made adequate provision?
Where it’s claimed that the Will has made inadequate provision for a person, or people particularly connected to the deceased (for example a spouse, partner, child, or somebody who was dependent on them), then that person may be able to bring a claim against the Estate for provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
What does the Will mean?
Where the Will has been ineffectively or poorly drafted, a dispute may arise as to the deceased’s true intentions regarding the distribution of their Estate.
Are the Executors or Administrators dealing with the administration of the Estate in a proper and timely manner?
If you have concerns about how the Executors are administering the Estate, we can advise you on the duties of Executors and about the remedies that you can seek from the court if an executor is falling short.
The range and extent of the issues can be vast, and they are often complicated. If you have any concerns or think you have a claim, you should take advice as soon as possible. That’s because some claims, such as those brought by people making a claim for financial provision from an Estate, have very strict time limits and must be issued within six months of the date of the Grant of Probate.
At Eric Robinson Solicitors our expert lawyers can provide a no-obligation, fixed-fee one-hour interview for £125 plus VAT to help you establish whether or not you have a claim. If you decide to instruct us beyond this initial meeting then we will discuss with you the various funding options that may be available and we will help you find the one to suit you.
Most disputes about Wills and Estates are settled before they get to court. That is what we aim for at Eric Robinson Solicitors, because we recognise that taking a claim to court can be expensive and stressful for families. So we will explore the ways of settling the dispute including mediation and negotiation. And we’ll make sure that our strategy and advice is tailor-made for you.
Is there a Will?
A Will is always the starting point. If one has been made it should clearly set out the wishes of the deceased. If you know that there is a Will and believe that you stand to benefit from it, then you should ask the executors for a copy.
If you know that there is a Will, but it cannot be found, enquiries should be made of the deceased’s solicitors, bank or relatives. It may also be necessary to search the deceased’s property or to place an advertisement for the missing Will.
If you are unsure whether the deceased made a Will, then you can make a Standing Search at the local Probate Registry. This should tell you if probate has been obtained on the deceased’s Will and give you details of the executors or, if there is no Will, who has been appointed as the personal representative to administer the deceased’s estate.
How do I challenge a Will that is invalid?
A valid Will must reflect the intentions of the deceased. If there is evidence to suggest that the deceased did not understand what they were signing because of a physical or mental illness, or there is evidence to suggest they may have been put under pressure to sign, then the Will may be invalid. If you think that this may be the case, then you should speak to a specialist solicitor straight away. It is important to act before the administration of the estate begins; once assets have been distributed it is much more difficult to put things right.
Should I contact the solicitor who drafted the Will?
If the deceased’s Will was prepared by a solicitor and you have concerns about the validity of the Will, then you may be entitled to obtain information from the deceased’s solicitors concerning the circumstances in which the Will was made and the expression of the deceased’s wishes. You can also ask for copies of documents from the solicitor’s file. It is best to get some legal advice on this before seeking this information because it is important you ask for the right information in the correct manner.
What happens if the terms of the Will are unclear?
Sometimes in more complex estates, issues can arise as to what the deceased intended by a term of the Will. If you believe that a term of the Will does not reflect the deceased’s intentions, or is ambiguous, you may be able to ask the Court to rectify unclear terms in the Will to more accurately reflect the deceased’s intentions. Speak to one of our specialist solicitors as soon as possible. It is important to resolve the situation before the distribution of the estate’s assets begins.
Does the Will provide proper financial provision for everyone who was dependent on the deceased?
Sometimes the Will does not provide reasonable financial provision for the deceased’s close family members. If you are a spouse, partner, child or someone maintained by the deceased, and the Will does not provide adequately for you, then you may have a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Please note that there is a very strict time limit for bringing claims under the Act, which is six months from the date of the Grant of Probate. If you do not issue a claim within that period then you may lose your right to do so, so act quickly.
If I make a claim for financial provision can I obtain urgent financial help from the Estate?
If you bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, then you may be able to apply to the court for interim payments to ease your financial situation while you wait for the court to consider your case.
What can I do if an Executor is not doing their job properly?
The executor is under a duty to administer the estate as soon as possible. If they delay without good reason then you can take steps to force them to act or, if necessary, have them replaced. Get legal advice on the best way of achieving this.
Is it important to retain communication with those persons involved in the Estate?
The process of administering the estate can lead to disagreements between executors, personal representatives and beneficiaries. Disputes can be about all sorts of things concerning how the deceased’s assets are managed. It is always best to try and sort these out by agreement, but if this is not possible then it may be necessary to ask a court to intervene and give directions to the executors or personal representatives as to how the estate should be progressed.
Can other types of claim arise against an Estate?
You may not stand to benefit from a Will, but you may be the executor or the personal representative who needs advice on administering the estate. We are here to help in those situations too. Disputed debts, claims on the estate, and the removal of occupiers from the deceased’s property are just some of the problems you could come up against. It’s a good idea to get expert legal advice before tackling these issues yourself because a steer in the right direction usually saves time, money and difficulties later on.
Is time of the essence if I think I have a claim against an Estate?
At Eric Robinson Solicitors we offer our clients a no obligation, one-hour initial fixed fee meeting for £125 plus VAT (£150). During that hour, we will advise you on the merits and risks of any claim, the options open to you for progressing the matter, and what you should do next.
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Client Complaints Solicitor
Dispute Resolution Department