Over 30 Years Experience

The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists

Family and Claim Inheritance : A Complete Guide For Will Disputes

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Consultant Solicitor

Introduction

Have you ever wondered what happens when a family member while any incident ? Or perhaps you’re facing a similar situation yourself ? Claim Inheritance disputes can be emotionally charged and legally complex.

This guide explores various scenarios where contest a will might be necessary. In highlighting the importance of clear communication within families and seeing a Solicitor early on for legal guidance.

We review four recent cases dealing with claims inheritance that showcase the diverse complexities surrounding will disputes:

  • The Forfeiture Rule and Compassion: Can a Husband or Wife who assists their terminally ill partner inherit despite the law’s restrictions?
  • Claims Lost with a Life: What happens to a child’s inheritance claim if they sadly pass away before the case is settled?
  • Intestacy and Family Dispute: How can intestacy rules, which apply when someone dies without a will, lead to conflict amongst family members?
  • Will vs. Family Feud: Can a partner inherit over a child if a valid but unexpected will emerges?

If you suspect the validity of a will or require assistance navigating an inheritance dispute, Contest A Will Today can be your partner. We’ll provide the legal expertise you need to ensure a fair and respectful resolution.

We Examine Four Recent Cases Below:

Case One: Inheritance disputes get complex when family breaks down. Forfeiture rule can block killers from inheriting, but courts have discretion for compassionate outcomes. Article explores a case where husband helped terminally ill wife end her life and the legal battle over inheritance.

When Claim Inheritance Gone Wrong:

This claim inheritance blog explores the complex legal and emotional issues that arise when family relationships break down in the face of inheritance disputes. We will delve into the landmark case of Withers Trust Corporation v Estate of Hannah Goodman [2023] EWHC 2780 CH, which grapples with the tension between the Forfeiture Act 1982 and the desire to achieve a just outcome in a tragic situation.

The Forfeiture Rule: A Barrier to Inheritance:

The Forfeiture Act 1982 enshrines the public policy principle known as the forfeiture rule. This rule prevents someone who unlawfully kills another from benefiting from the deceased’s estate. The reasoning behind this rule is to clear the deter unlawful killings. The uphold the principle that a murderer should not profit from their crime.

However, Section 2 of the Forfeiture Act grants the court discretion to modify or limit the rule’s effect. This means the court can allow the killer to inherit, even if they technically violated the law. This discretion is crucial, as it allows for a nuanced approach . This considers the specific facts and  circumstances of each case.

The Case of Adrian Berry and Hannah Goodman: A Devastating Loss:

Withers Trust Corporation v Estate of Hannah Goodman [2023] EWHC 2780 CH presents a heart-wrenching scenario. Hannah Goodman was terminally ill, and her husband, Adrian Berry, assisted her in ending her life. Mr. Berry, understandably distraught after his wife’s death, subsequently took his own life.

The central question before the court was whether, Mr. Berry’s estate should be barred from inheriting from Ms. Goodman’s estate due to his role in her death. This turned on the application of the forfeiture rule.

Weighing the Factors: Justice Beyond Black and White:

Master McQuail, the presiding judge, carefully considered the guidance set out in Dunbar v Plant. This case established factors that the court should weigh when deciding whether to grant relief from the forfeiture rule. These factors include:

  • The relationship between the deceased and the killer: Understanding the nature and proximity of their bond sheds light on the intent behind the actions.
  • Moral culpability: Was the killing planned and premeditated or a desperate unusual act of compassion? Assessing the degree of culpability is crucial.
  • The wishes of the deceased: Did the deceased express a desire for their partner to inherit? Examining their intentions helps determine a just outcome.
  • The size of the estate: The potential impact on other beneficiaries factors into the decision.
  • The financial situation of the killer: Would denying inheritance create undue hardship?

Master McQuail meticulously evaluated these factors, acknowledging that while an unlawful killing had occurred. There was insufficient moral culpability to warrant prosecution. He recognized the tragic circumstances surrounding Ms. Goodman’s illness and the emotional state Mr. Berry was likely in when he assisted her.

A Decision Based on Compassion: Relief From Forfeiture Granted:

Ultimately, Master McQuail decided that justice required relief from the forfeiture rule. Denying Mr. Berry’s estate inheritance would only add further pain and suffering to an already ad and unhappy tragic situation. This decision highlights the court’s ability to consider the human element in cases. Where the law might otherwise produce a harsh outcome.

The Aftermath and The Forfeiture Rule

The Withers Trust Corporation case serves as a stark reminder of the complexities involved in contesting a will, especially when the forfeiture rule is a factor. Here’s how the forfeiture rule can play out in various scenarios:

  • Spouse Assisting in Suicide: If a spouse assists their terminally ill partner in ending their life, the surviving spouse might need to contest the will to ensure they inherit if the forfeiture rule applies. This is because the court might rule that the spouse is ineligible to inherit due to their actions.
  • Disinherited Children Contest a Will : Children who believe they were unfairly excluded from a will due to undue influence or a strained relationship might contest the will can make an inheritance claim. The forfeiture rule could come into play if the person who influenced the will was involved in the deceased’s death. In such a case, they might be barred from inheriting if the court finds their actions unlawful.
  • Hidden Heirs: If a previously unknown child or relative emerges after the death, they might contest the will to claim their rightful inheritance. Here, the forfeiture rule wouldn’t be a factor unless the new heir was somehow involved in the deceased’s demise. If, however, they were found to have played a role in the deceased’s death, they could be barred from inheriting through the application of the forfeiture rule.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Withers Trust Corporation case exemplifies the court’s ability to juggle and reason the law’s rigidity with the human cost of tragedy. While the forfeiture rule rightfully deters wrongdoing, the court’s discretion allows for compassionate reasoned and sensible outcomes.

This case also underscores the potential need to contest a will when the forfeiture rule applies. If you suspect the rule might impact your inheritance or the validity of a will, contacting Contest A Will Today can provide the legal guidance you need to navigate these complexities.

Remember, inheritance disputes can be emotionally charged, so seeking professional help can ensure fairness and clarity throughout the process.

Case Two: Family tensions rise when a child sues parents’ estate, then dies. Inheritance claim dies with them, highlighting importance of clear communication within families.

Torn Apart: When Family Relationships and Inheritance Collide in Claim Case:

This article explores the complexities of inheritance claim disputes. Particularly when family dynamics deteriorate in the face of challenging a will.

We delve into the recent case of The Estate of Archibald v Stewart [2023] EWHC 2515, which tackles the question of whether claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”) can be pursued by the estate of a deceased claimant.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975: Seeking Financial Support

The 1975 Act serves a crucial purpose in inheritance law. It allows certain individuals, such as a child of the deceased, to make a claim for financial provision. Otherwise they weren’t adequately provided for in the will (or there was no will at all). This ensures some level of financial security for those who might be left struggling after the death of a loved one.

The Archibald Case: A Family Divided:

The Archibald case presents a heartbreaking scenario. Neil and Julie Archibald brought a claim under the 1975 Act against the estates of Neil’s late parents, Rosemary and Malcolm Archibald. The claim essentially argued that Neil was not adequately provided for in their will. However, tragically, Neil passed away before the claim could be resolved.

This turn of events raised a critical question: could Julie, as Neil’s wife, continue the claim on behalf of his estate? In other words, could Neil’s estate inherit the right to challenge his parents’ will?

The Court’s Decision: A Claim Lost with a Life:

Deputy Master Francis, presiding over the case, delivered a judgment with significant implications for challenging a will under the 1975 Act. He concluded that a claim brought by a child of the deceased under this Act cannot be pursued by their estate after their death.

The reasoning behind this decision hinges on the nature of claims under the 1975 Act. These claims are seen as personal and relevant to the applicant, focusing on their specific financial needs and circumstances following the deceased’s death.

Once the applicant dies, the rationale for the claim evaporates. They no longer require maintenance, and the factors considered by the court, such as their financial resources and needs, become irrelevant.

Precedent and Support for the Decision:

Deputy Master Francis bolstered his decision by referring to three previous High Court cases where claims under the 1975 Act were deemed to cease upon the applicant’s death. He further cited the recent Supreme Court case of Unger v Ul-Husan [2023] UKSC 22.

While this case dealt with financial claims under matrimonial legislation, it established a key principle: certain claims can potentially be inherited and pursued by the estate of the deceased claimant. However, Deputy Master Francis distinguished this principle from claims under the 1975 Act, emphasizing their strictly personal nature.

The Impact of Family Tensions on Claim Inheritance:

The Archibald case highlights the delicate balance between upholding the intent of the deceased’s will and ensuring fair financial provision for close family members.

It also underscores the potential for family relationships to become strained in the face of challenging a will. When a child feels the need to contest their parents’ will, it can be a sign of deep resentment or a fractured relationship.

The decision in this case serves as a reminder of the importance of clear and open communication within families regarding inheritance plans. Open communication can help to prevent disputes and ensure that loved ones are adequately provided for after death.

What this Case Demonstrates:

However, when such communication breaks down, the Archibald case shows the legal hurdles that can arise for those seeking to challenge a will, particularly if the claimant passes away before the claim is resolved.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the complexities of challenging a will under the 1975 Act, exploring the factors considered by the court, the eligibility of claimants, and strategies for navigating these often-contentious legal battles. We will also explore how to approach these situations with sensitivity, considering the potential impact on family relationships.

Conclusion:

In summary, the Archibald case serves as a cautionary example for individuals contemplating a challenge to a will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. While the Act serves as a safety net for financially vulnerable family members, it’s crucial to recognize that any claim made under it is inherently personal and ceases upon the claimant’s death.

This underscores the significance of open and transparent communication within families regarding their inheritance plans.

However, in cases where communication breaks down, the Archibald case underscores the legal intricacies involved in posthumously contesting a will. Individuals considering such action, particularly those facing strained familial relationships, are advised to seek legal counsel early in order to navigate the complexities of the process and fully comprehend the potential hurdles they may encounter.

Case Three: Sibling rivalry erupts over estate control when father dies without a will. Intestacy law creates conflict, highlighting importance of proper estate planning to avoid family discord.

Divided Heirs, Bitter Disputes: When Family Fractures Over Intestacy

This article demonstrates the complexities of administering an estate when a person dies intestate, meaning they die without a will. In such situations, where family relationships are already strained, disputes over who controls the estate can further tear families apart.

We delve into the recent case of King v Stephen King [2023] EWHC 2822 (FAM), which grapples with the question of who should be appointed administrator in a contested intestacy.

The Law Steps In When Wills Don’t:

Intestacy rules come into play when someone passes away without a will. These pre-defined legal guidelines dictate how the deceased’s estate should be distributed. While these rules ensure a fair distribution among certain family members, they can also become a source of conflict, particularly when relationships are already fragile.

The King Family: A Broken Bond After Death:

The King case provides a typical illustration of how intestacy can intensify family conflicts. Following the death of Eric Sidney King without leaving a will, his two sons, Stephen and Philip, were left to contend with the distribution of their father’s estate.

Under the rules of intestacy, both Stephen and Philip were entitled to equal consideration for appointment as administrators of the estate, tasked with overseeing its management and distribution.

However, Philip contested the initial decision to grant administration rights to Stephen. This challenge lays bare a profound division within the King family, suggesting underlying tensions or mistrust between the brothers.

The Court’s Decision: Balancing Costs and Family Peace

The Family Court, presided over by Mr. David Rees KC, faced the critical task of determining the most suitable administrator for the estate. While Philip possessed an equal legal claim, the judge deemed him unfit for the role. Citing Philip’s lack of focus and inability to prioritize effectively, the court concluded he wouldn’t manage the estate “in a proportionate or constructive manner.”

This decision highlights the importance of considering not just legal entitlement but also the individual’s capacity to handle the complexities of estate administration.

The court then weighed the options: appointing Stephen or opting for an independent professional administrator. While appointing Stephen might incur lower costs, the potential for further family conflict remained high.

Ultimately, the court prioritized the estate’s best interests and the well-being of all beneficiaries. Appointing an independent professional, though more expensive, would remove the estate’s administration from the emotional fray, minimizing the risk of further disputes between the brothers.

Contesting a Will After Probate: When Intestacy Creates Conflict:

The King case underscores the significant risks associated with intestacy, particularly in situations where family relationships are strained. While individuals maintain the legal right to contest a will post-probate that is, after it has been formally recognized intestacy completely disregards the deceased’s intentions, potentially sparking disputes over estate management and distribution.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll delve deeper into the intricate nuances of intestacy and the associated legal procedures. We’ll explore proactive measures for avoiding intestacy, such as drafting a will, and navigating the complexities that arise in the absence of one.

Additionally, we’ll examine alternative dispute resolution mechanisms aimed at facilitating family consensus outside of court, thereby mitigating the emotional and financial burdens often associated with contesting an intestate estate.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the King case exposes the raw wounds family discord can inflict when someone dies intestate. Intestacy bypasses the deceased’s wishes, potentially sparking disputes over who manages the estate and how. While contesting a will after probate exists, intestacy removes that option entirely.

The court’s decision to prioritize an independent administrator underscores the importance of minimizing family conflict.

This case serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the benefits of clear estate planning through a will. With a will, the deceased controls their legacy, potentially preventing the very situation the King family now faces.

Case Four: Will or Family Feud? Daughter vs Partner in Inheritance Fight

A Body in Dispute: When Claim Inheritance Fractures Collide with Inheritance Rights

This article explores the emotional complexities and legal intricacies that can arise when family relationships break down in the face of inheritance disputes. We delve into the recent case of Otitoju v Onwordi [2023] EWHC 2665, which tackles a unique and sensitive issue: who has the right to claim inheritance and make funeral arrangements when a will is contested.

challanging a will, contest a will today

Claim Inheritance :Daughter Against Partner

In the Otitoju case, we’re confronted with a scenario rife with tension stemming from a familial dispute. Following the passing of a man, a contentious disagreement ensued between his daughter, Ms. Otitoju, and his partner, Ms. Onwordi. At the crux of the dispute lay the pivotal question of who held the legal authority to claim inheritance rights and arrange funeral proceedings.

Court Action

Believing her father had passed intestate, Ms. Otitoju sought legal recourse by applying for a court injunction to restrain Ms. Onwordi from claiming her father’s body, and to grant herself the authority to orchestrate the funeral arrangements.

This legal maneuver underscores the potential for resentment and rivalry, particularly when strained family dynamics intersect with the presence of a partner.

However, the situation took a dramatic turn when Ms. Onwordi produced a will executed mere weeks before her partner’s demise.

This testament, witnessed by Ms. Onwordi’s daughter and naming her as one of the executors alongside another individual, designated Ms. Onwordi’s friend, Ms. Asesanya, as the appointed executor responsible for administering the estate and overseeing funeral preparations.

The emergence of this will significantly shifted the power dynamics within the family, potentially leaving Ms. Otitoju without the inheritance or control she had initially envisaged.

A Will Emerges: Partner Steps Forward

Ms. Onwordi countered by presenting a will dated just weeks before her partner’s death. This will, witnessed by Ms. Onwordi’s daughter (also named as an executor alongside another individual), appointed Ms. Onwordi’s friend, Ms. Asesanya, as the official executor responsible for managing the estate and funeral arrangements.

The will’s existence significantly altered the power dynamics within the family, potentially leaving Ms. Otitoju without the inheritance or control she may have initially anticipated.

Authenticity: Fingerprint as Signature

A critical question emerged: was the will valid? The will deviated from the traditional handwritten signature, instead bearing the deceased’s fingerprint. However, the court, presided over by Mr. Justice Matthews, acknowledged that established legal precedent allows for a fingerprint to serve as a valid signature if properly witnessed.

Presumptions and the Burden of Proof

The lack of cross-examination from either party presented a challenge. Without the ability to directly question witnesses, the court relied on presumptions to establish the will’s legitimacy. Because the will appeared to be witnessed correctly and professionally drafted, the court applied the presumption of formal validity and capacity. This meant the burden shifted to Ms. Otitoju to prove the will was invalid, a burden she could not meet without cross-examination.

The Executor’s Right and the Body’s Disposition:

Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of Ms. Onwordi and the validity of the will. This decision confirmed Ms. Asesanya, as the appointed executor, as the one with the legal authority to claim inheritance and make funeral arrangements.

The case highlights that while there’s no ownership right over a deceased body, common law dictates the deceased’s personal representative (the executor) has the duty to ensure proper disposal.

This case underscores the importance of clear communication within families, particularly regarding inheritance plans. A properly drafted and witnessed will can prevent such disputes and ensure the deceased’s wishes are respected. However, when family relationships are already strained, the emergence of a will can further complicate the grieving process and the inheritance claim process.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the legal intricacies of contesting a will, exploring the grounds for such challenges and the evidence needed to prove a will’s invalidity. We will also discuss the emotional toll of inheritance disputes and strategies for navigating these situations with sensitivity and respect for all parties involved.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Otitoju case serves as a poignant illustration of the emotional upheaval that ensues when familial ties are strained by conflicts over inheritance. The clash between a daughter and a partner over the rights to claim inheritance and oversee funeral arrangements underscores the deeply personal and contentious nature of such disputes.

The court’s decision to uphold a fingerprint-signed will as the governing legal document in this case highlights the paramount importance of having clear and legally valid documentation in place. This underscores the critical role that precise legal instruments play in resolving inheritance disputes and ensuring that the deceased’s wishes are honored.

Furthermore, the Otitoju case serves as a powerful reminder of the necessity for transparent communication within families regarding inheritance plans. Open discussions can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes, as well as ensure that all parties involved are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

However, when communication breaks down, as evidenced by the Otitoju case, the repercussions can be significant. Legal battles may erupt, leaving families embroiled in protracted disputes over inheritance rights and funeral arrangements. This serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the importance of seeking legal counsel early on and proactively addressing potential conflicts to avoid unnecessary strife and turmoil within families.

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Frequently asked questions.

Disputes over wills can arise in several circumstances, including:

  • Testamentary capacity: The person who made the will (known as the testator) must have had the mental capacity to understand what they were doing and the consequences of their actions. This means that they must have been able to understand the nature and extent of their property, the people they were giving their property to, and the people they were excluded from their will.

 

  • Valid execution: The will must have been executed correctly under the law. This means it must be in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed by two independent witnesses.

 

  • Undue influence: The testator must have made the will freely and without any pressure from others. The will may be invalid if someone was unduly influenced to make a will. Undue influence can occur when someone takes advantage of a testator’s vulnerability, such as if the testator is elderly, ill, or has a mental disability.

 

  • Fraud or forgery: If the will was forged or if someone fraudulently induced the testator to make the will, the will may be invalid.

 

Claims against a will must usually be made within six months of the grant of probate being issued. This is the legal document that gives the executor the authority to administer the estate. If a claim is not made within this time, it may be too late to challenge the will.

As such, executors often wait until this six-month period has expired before distributing the estate. This is to avoid having to distribute the estate and then having to take it back if a successful claim is made against the will.

Here are some examples of how these disputes can arise:

  • A family member may dispute a will if they believe that the testator did not have the mental capacity to make a will. For example, if the testator was suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease at the time the will was made.
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A family member may dispute a will if they believe that it was not executed correctly. For example, if the will is not signed by the testator or if it is not witnessed by two independent witnesses.

 

  • A family member may dispute a will if they believe that they were unduly influenced to make the will. For example, if a caregiver or another family member pressured the testator to make the will in their favour.

 

  • A family member may dispute a will if they believe that it was forged or if someone fraudulently induced the testator to make the will. For example, if someone forged the testator’s signature on the will or if someone lied to the testator about the contents of the will.

If you are thinking about disputing a will, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. We can assess your case and advise you on your legal options.



Types of Trusts

Many different types of trusts can be set up, depending on your specific needs and goals. Some of the most common types of trusts include:
Bare Trusts: A bare trust is a simple type of trust in which the trustee holds the assets for the benefit of the beneficiary. The beneficiary is entitled to the income and capital of the trust as soon as they are old enough to receive them.

Interest in Possession Trusts: An interest in possession trust is a type of trust in which the beneficiary is entitled to the income from the trust immediately, but not to the capital until a later date. This type of trust is often used for minor beneficiaries or for beneficiaries who are not yet responsible enough to manage their own money.

Discretionary Trusts: A discretionary trust is a type of trust in which the trustee has the discretion to decide how and when to distribute the income and capital of the trust to the beneficiaries. This type of trust is often used for families with multiple beneficiaries or beneficiaries with special needs.

Accumulation Trusts: An accumulation trust is a type of trust in which the income from the trust is accumulated and not distributed to the beneficiaries until a later date. This type of trust is often used to save for a specific purpose, such as a child’s education or a retirement fund.

Mixed Trusts: A mixed trust is a type of trust that combines elements of different types of trusts. For example, a trust may be a discretionary trust for one beneficiary and an interest in possession trust for another beneficiary.

Settlor-Interested Trusts: A settlor-interested trust is a type of trust in which the settlor (the person who creates the trust) retains some interest in the trust assets. For example, the settlor may retain the right to receive income from the trust or to appoint the trustee.

Non-Resident Trusts: A non-resident trust is a type of trust that is created and governed by the laws of a country other than the country where the settlor or beneficiaries reside.
Which type of trust is right for you will depend on your specific needs and goals. It is important to consult with an estate planning attorney to discuss your options and choose the type of trust that is best for you.
Here are some examples of how different types of trusts can be used:
A bare trust can be used to hold assets for a minor child until they reach the age of majority.

An interest in possession trust can be used to provide income to a beneficiary who is not yet responsible enough to manage their own money.

A discretionary trust can be used to manage assets for a family with multiple beneficiaries or for beneficiaries with special needs.

An accumulation trust can be used to save for a specific purpose, such as a child’s education or a retirement fund.

A mixed trust can be used to achieve a variety of different goals, such as providing income to one beneficiary and preserving capital for another beneficiary.

A settlor-interested trust can be used to retain some control over trust assets after the settlor has created the trust.

A non-resident trust can be used to reduce estate taxes or to protect assets from creditors.
It is important to note that this is just a brief overview of the different types of trusts. There are many other types of trusts available, and each type of trust has its own specific features and benefits. For more information please visit www.gov.uk/trusts-taxes/types-of-trust

Inheritance trust disputes can be complex and varied, but some common scenarios include:

  • Disputes over the validity of the trust: This can happen if the settlor (the person who created the trust) does not have the mental capacity to create a trust, or if the trust deed was not executed correctly.

 

  • Disputes over the interpretation of the trust deed: If the trust deed is poorly drafted or unclear, it can lead to disputes between the trustees and beneficiaries about how the trust should be administered.

 

  • Disputes over the appointment or removal of trustees: Trustees have a legal duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. If a trustee is not acting in the best interests of the beneficiaries, the beneficiaries may apply to the court to have the trustee removed.

 

  • Disputes over the investment of trust assets: Trustees have a legal duty to invest trust assets prudently. If a trustee makes investments that are too risky or that lose money, the beneficiaries may sue the trustee for breach of duty.

 

  • Disputes over the distribution of trust assets: Trustees have a legal duty to distribute trust assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the trust deed. If a trustee distributes trust assets incorrectly, the beneficiaries may sue the trustee for breach of duty.

 

Here are some specific examples of inheritance trust disputes that have occurred in the UK:

  • In one case, a beneficiary disputed the validity of a trust deed on the grounds that the settlor (the person who created the trust) did not have the mental capacity to create a trust at the time it was set up.

 

  • In another case, a beneficiary sued the trustees for breach of duty after the trustees made a number of risky investments that lost money.



  • In a third case, a beneficiary sued the trustees for breach of duty after the trustees distributed trust assets to the beneficiaries in a way that was not in accordance with the terms of the trust deed.

 

Other possible disputes include:

  • A beneficiary was expecting more than what is set out in the trust document. This may be because the beneficiary had a reasonable belief that they would receive more, or because the trust document is unclear about the beneficiary’s entitlement.

 

  • The individual who set up the trust was provided with negligent or misleading advice. If the settlor was not properly advised about the consequences of setting up a trust, or if they were given incorrect information, they may be able to challenge the trust.

 

  • The trust document is either incomplete or unclear about the wishes of the deceased. If the trust document is incomplete or unclear, it can lead to disputes between the trustees and beneficiaries about how the trust should be administered.

 

  • A trustee acts against the best interests of the beneficiary or doesn’t administer the trust correctly. Trustees have a legal duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. If a trustee breaches their duty, the beneficiaries may sue the trustee.

If you are involved in an inheritance trust dispute, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. We can assess your case and advise you on your legal options.

Contesting a will is challenging the validity of a will. This can be done on a number of grounds, including.

  • The testator (the person who made the will) did not have the mental capacity to make a will.
  • The will was not executed correctly, i.e., it was not signed by the testator or witnessed by two independent witnesses.
  • The testator was unduly influenced to make the will.
  • The will was forged or fraudulent.

 

Contentious probate is any dispute about the administration of a deceased person’s estate. This can include disputes about

  • The validity of the will.
  • The interpretation of the will.
  • The appointment or removal of executors.
  • The distribution of the estate assets.
  • The management of the estate.
  • In the UK, contentious probate is dealt with by the High Court.

 

The main difference between contesting a will and contentious probate is that contesting a will is specifically challenging the validity of the will, while contentious probate can include a wide range of disputes about the administration of an estate.

Here is an example:

Contesting a will: A beneficiary challenges the validity of a will on the grounds that the testator did not have the mental capacity to make a will.

Contentious probate: A beneficiary disputes the interpretation of a will and argues that they are entitled to a larger share of the estate than they have been given.

It is important to note that the two terms are often used interchangeably. For example, a lawyer might say that they are “dealing with a contentious probate matter” when they are actually challenging the validity of a will.

If you are thinking about contesting a will or pursuing a contentious probate claim, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. We can assess your case and advise you on your legal options.

The time limit for making a contentious probate claim in the UK is six months from the grant of probate. This is the legal document that gives the executor the authority to administer the estate.

If you do not make your claim within this six-month time limit, you may need to apply to the court for permission to make a late claim. The court will only grant permission if you have a good reason for not making your claim on time.

There are a number of factors that the court will consider when deciding whether to grant permission for a late claim, including:

  • Why did you not make your claim on time?
  • The strength of your case.
  • Whether the other beneficiaries will be prejudiced if your claim is allowed to proceed.
  • If the court grants you permission to make a late claim, you will need to file your claim within 28 days.

 

It is important to note that there are some exceptions to the six-month time limit. For example, if the executor has committed fraud or concealed assets from the beneficiaries, the beneficiaries may be able to make a claim after the six-month time limit has expired.

If you are thinking about making a contentious probate claim, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer can assess your case and advise you on the time limits that apply and whether you have a good case.

Here are some examples of when you might be able to make a late contentious probate claim:

  • You were not aware of the death of the deceased until after the six-month time limit had expired.
  • You were unable to make your claim on time because you were ill or incapacitated.
  • The executor has deliberately concealed information from you about the estate.
  • The executor has committed fraud in the administration of the estate.

 

The 12-year limit for making a contentious probate claim in the UK applies to claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. This means that if you are making a claim for financial provision from an estate, you must do so within 12 years of the date of the deceased’s death.

The reason for the 12-year limit is to encourage people to make their claims as soon as possible after the deceased’s death. This is because it can become more difficult to investigate and prove a claim after a long period of time has elapsed.

If you are unsure whether you are able to make a late contentious probate claim, you should seek legal advice.

Most disputes in the UK are resolved out of court through mediation and negotiation. This is because it is generally faster, cheaper, and less stressful for all involved.

If you are considering disputing a will, it is important to contact a contentious probate specialist before you involve any other relatives or beneficiaries of the estate. A specialist lawyer can advise you on your legal options and help you to resolve the dispute quickly and efficiently.

Here are some of the benefits of resolving a will dispute out of court:

  • It is faster and cheaper than going to court.
  • It is less stressful for all involved.
  • It allows you to maintain relationships with other family members and beneficiaries.
  • You have more control over the outcome of the dispute.

 

There are a number of steps that you can take to try to resolve a contentious probate dispute without going to court, including

  • Negotiation: You can try to negotiate a settlement with the other parties to the dispute. This may involve making concessions on your part, but it can be a good way to avoid the time and expense of court proceedings.
  • Mediation: Mediation is a process where an independent mediator helps the parties to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. Mediation can be a good way to resolve a dispute without going to court, but it is important to note that it is not binding on the parties.
  • Arbitration: Arbitration is a more formal process than mediation, and it is binding on the parties. However, it can still be a good way to resolve a dispute without going to court.

 

If you are unable to resolve the dispute amicably, you will need to file a claim with the High Court. The court will then hold a hearing to decide the case.

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