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After losing a loved one, entangling in a legal battle can put a strain on families that are already dealing with grief and anxiety. When it comes to disputing a Will, or making a claim under the Inheritance Act, there are some crucial legal aspects to get to grips with and these are often quite complex.

1. Establish the foundations.

Firstly, find out how and when the Will was made, signed and witnessed as these could be key factors in your potential dispute. It’s also a good idea to check if there was an earlier Will made before the one you want to challenge. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that intestacy rules automatically apply if the Will is declared invalid as they only cover how an estate will be shared out if there is no valid Will – there may have been an earlier valid Will that comes back into the picture.

2. Identify who to contact.

Sometimes the executor of a Will (that’s the person dealing with the assets of the deceased) is also the main beneficiary, or there may be multiple beneficiaries. Don’t focus solely on dealing with an executor and overlook involving the main beneficiaries as this can waste time.

3. Don’t delay making your claim.

Time limits apply to some inheritance dispute claims, such as a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 which must be made within six months from the date when probate was granted. Also, if you wait to make your claim estate assets may have already been handed out under the Will that you are unhappy with, and that would make your claim more complicated.

4. Avoid tunnel vision.

You may be focused on one or two issues, for example, if the Will was made because of undue influence, or the person lacked mental capacity. However, have in mind that other aspects may also be relevant. For example, the Will was signed and witnessed incorrectly, or there was suspicious or incorrect property or bank transactions during the deceased person’s lifetime – known as misappropriation of assets.

If you need help with a Will, trust or inheritance dispute, whether you want to make a challenge of need to defend one, please contact Susan Glenholme on 01727 735636 or sg@debenhamsottaway.co.uk

Read the blog post for the Inheritance disputes top tips series here:

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.