Wills can be disputed for many reasons, the most common include instances where the Will was
- not signed or witnessed correctly
- made by someone not of sound mind
- made under undue influence
- made with a lack of knowledge or approval
- the result of forgery or fraud.
We are seeing an increase in Will and inheritance disputes, particularly in cases involving step-families or homemade DIY Wills. A Solicitor accredited by the prestigious Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) can be a powerful ally for people seeking a good resolution avoiding the need to go to trial. It is possible to reach a settlement via negotiations using alternative dispute resolution options such mediation in most cases. This can save on costs, time and stress.
Disputing the validity of a Will is not the only type of inheritance dispute. In certain circumstances a claim might be brought under the Inheritance Act 1975. This legislation can apply in situations involving a failure to make reasonable financial provision for family and dependents. Often this type of claim is made by a long-term cohabitee who is surprised to find they will not inherit following the death of their loved one.
The office for National Statistics reported that the number of cohabiting couples more than doubled between 1996 and 2016, making this the fastest growing family type in the UK. Of course, people often make provision for their partners in their Will. However, sometimes a cohabitant dies either leaving a Will which makes no provision for their partner (perhaps because it predates the relationship) or they did not make a Will, known as dying “intestate”, in which case cohabitees do not inherit any part of the estate.
With our specialist expertise and extensive experience acting both for individuals bringing Will and inheritance dispute claims and on other occasions representing beneficiaries and/or executors responding to claims brought by others, we have seen these cases from both sides of the fence. This breadth of experience gives us a great first-hand insight into the approach and tactics regularly adopted on inheritance disputes and helps us achieve the best results for our clients whether they are making a claim themselves or responding to a claim from someone else.
As an accredited member of SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) (www.sfe/legal) we have also successfully represented clients recovering money from rogue attorneys who have acted inappropriately by helping themselves to money that rightfully belongs to their elderly relative. The rogue attorney will perhaps have considered their conduct as legitimate because they might stand to benefit from an inheritance at a future date –missing the point that inheritance would only be relevant after the death of the relative, when he/she no longer had their own possible need for the money.
If you would like assistance in a Will, inheritance or power of attorney dispute matter, please contact us today.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.