What is Contentious Probate?
A Contentious Probate or Disputed Will is a dispute involving inheritance or the validity of a Will. In basic terms, it is a disagreement after someone has passed away about the distribution of their estate. The dispute could emerge from you feeling the Will didn’t leave you what you felt you deserved or were promised, or you may have concerns regarding the way in which the Will was made.
We can help
Dealing with issues around who is entitled to what in a Will requires a sensitive approach, which looks at a wide range of factors – from family disputes to difficulties regarding testamentary capacity and undue influence. Our solicitors are greatly experienced in these matters.
If you are worried about how a Will was made, think you have a claim, or are in any way concerned about how someone’s estate is being distributed, telephone us on 01273 604123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abroad or can’t access a solicitor’s office? Here’s how to make a Will, and ensure your wishes are protected.
Contesting a Will
You can contest a Will either because the process of making the Will failed to comply with the law or there were other issues sufficient to prove the Will is invalid. There are a number of things that you have to comply with in order for a Will to be valid.
The Will must have been made in writing, voluntarily and without influence. The person who wrote the Will must have been over the age of 18, of sound mind, in the presence of two witnesses. The two witnesses must have signed the Will, in the presence of the person who created the Will and of course the person making the Will must have signed it also.
The main piece of legislation for contentious probate is the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. If the claim is that the Will did not make sufficient financial provision for someone then the Act sets out who can claim. A claim would be for what they might reasonably expect to receive after a loved one has passed away. If you feel you don’t receive what is expected – you may be entitled to claim.
It is important to be aware that there are rigid time restrictions if you do wish to claim. Any claim must be made within 6 months of the grant of probate or letters of administration (if the deceased did not make a Will).
To make a claim under this Act, you must be a person who fits into one of the categories of people listed in the Act (section 1(1)). These categories include: a spouse of the person who has passed away, a former spouse of the person who has passed away (ONLY if you have not remarried), a partner who lived with the deceased for at least 2 years immediately before the death, a child of the person who has passed away, a person who was treated as a child of the family by the person who passed away, or someone who was supported financially (partly or totally) by the person who has died.
If you can apply one of those categories to your particular circumstances that means you are one step closer to being able to make a claim. The next box to tick is whether you have reasonable grounds to make a claim.
These grounds are: the Will does not accord with the deceased’s wishes, there was a mistake of fact (for example by the lawyers), the deceased lacked capacity and didn’t fully understand the meaning and defect of what was in the Will (for example they had dementia), the Will was made under undue influence, the Will was not executed properly, or you feel that you were unfairly treated and not left enough or left out of the Will and you were maintained by the deceased.
If you can apply one of those grounds to your own situation, you may be able to claim under the Act and contest the Probate.
You may disagree with a Will because you feel that the person who made and signed the Will did not have proper mental capacity to make it. The probate of a Will can be contested on the grounds that the person making it did not have mental capacity to make. A Will can also be contested if you think the person who signed it did not realise they were making a Will or did not know what the Will said.
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