When a person is left facing a potential Probate or Will dispute, it can often be difficult for them to understand any rights/claims they may have. At a time in their life when they are not only suffering from grief of losing a loved one, they are having to deal with the legal complexities around a disputed Estate.
At CooperBurnett, we understand both the both the personal impact a disputed Estate can have on an individual and the need for clear and concise advice on a person’s rights and options.
Each case that we see has its own subjective facts and issues and will need specific advice to be given. The below case studies provide examples of scenarios that we see:
Left out of a Will
Mrs A has just received news that her father has passed away. Mrs A discovers that the content of her father’s Will, which was prepared and executed a few years ago, states that the entirety of the Estate has been left to his current wife and her two children.
Mrs A is not set to inherit anything. She is upset and hurt by this news and wants to know if there is anything she can do.
This is a typical scenario where it may be appropriate for Mrs A to bring a claim against the beneficiaries of the Estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
Each case is different and will depend on various factors as to its strength. These types of claims are not limited to children and can include anyone who was dependent on the deceased, be it a spouse, partner or any other dependent.
Executors - disputes over what to do with the Estate
Mr B has been appointed as an Executor under his late brother’s Will, alongside his sister, Mrs C. The Estate contains some small sums left in bank accounts/pension policies but the main asset is the residential property in which their brother lived.
Mr B and Mrs C are unable to agree on what to do with the property. Mr B would like the house to be sold, so the proceeds can go to the beneficiaries. Mrs C would prefer the house to be rented until such time as the housing market improves and prices increase or to apply for planning permission to increase the market price.
There is also a dispute over personal items, some of which are fairly valuable. Mr B would like to keep them for sentimental reasons, whereas Mrs C is suggesting they be sold.
This is not an uncommon scenario. Dealing with Probate of a loved one’s Estate is an emotional time and can cause siblings and/or co-executors to fall out or disagree. To avoid a dispute escalating, it is important for each party to get their own independent advice and try to deal with issues as soon as possible.
Issues of capacity and/or sudden changes to a Will
Mr D’s father has sadly passed away. Upon taking steps to find the current Will, Mr D is shocked to find that his father made a Will in the last six months, in which he disinherited his three children (including Mr D) and left the entirety of his Estate to his cleaner and her partner in equal shares.
Mr D is concerned about this, as he believes that his father was suffering from memory loss at the time the Will was made, and/or he is concerned about any influence that may have been exerted over his father.
When a Will has been changed suddenly prior to someone’s death, it is natural for their immediate family to become concerned. In certain circumstances, a Will can be challenged on grounds of lack of capacity or if undue influence has been applied on the person making the Will but this will be dependent on various factors.
The above studies are purely examples. There are various types of scenarios that could occur in relation to disputed Probates matters.
We have extensive experience in dealing with all types of contentious Probate and Trust matters.
If you have any queries surrounding the circumstances of a probate issue, please contact Joseph Oates or Lee Quickenden on 01892 515022.
This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.