Helping you resolve disagreements over a will or a legacy
We live in a country where people are free to make a will leaving their money and property to whoever they want when they die, and where a set of default rules (known as the ‘rules of intestacy’) apply to determine inheritance where no will exists.
We also benefit from a legal system that enables questions to be raised about the validity of a will where wrongdoing is suspected, and to ask for the terms of a will or the rules of intestacy to be varied where someone excluded from an inheritance ought to have been included or where a more generous inheritance is justified.
It may be possible to challenge a will or the rules of intestacy where you believe that:
- your loved one did not understand what they were doing when they made their will;
- they were pressured into making a will that does not reflect what they would have wanted;
- their will has been forged or otherwise tampered with;
- their will is invalid because it fails to comply with the necessary legal requirements;
- the will being presented as evidence of their final wishes was revoked before they died;
- no, or insufficient, financial provision has been made for you in circumstances where it should have been; or
- the rules of intestacy have been applied when they should not have been or result in an unjust outcome.
Types of inheritance dispute
Inheritance disputes that hit the headlines often involve challenges to wills where everything has been left to charity, or where a parent has remarried and there is disagreement about how the money should be split between the children of the first marriage and the wife or husband of the second marriage. However, other disputes may occur where one member of the family feels they have been treated less favorably than the others, or where someone who was financially dependent on the deceased before they died has not received the support they believe is appropriate or which they were promised.
Challenges are also increasingly being brought by members of families who believe their loved one lacked the mental capacity needed to make a will because of the onset of dementia.
Need for speed
Where a challenge is to be made, it is important to act quickly. Steps will need to be taken to gather evidence to support your case while events are still fresh in the memory of vital witnesses, and relevant documents will need to be obtained before they are destroyed.
Those responsible for collecting in and distributing your loved one’s assets will need to be notified of the claim, as will existing beneficiaries whose entitlement may be affected if your challenge is successful.
Restrictions will need to be put on your loved one’s assets to prevent anything happening to them until your claim has been determined, and a review of your case will need to be carried out to ensure a claim is made before the expiry of any relevant deadlines.
How our dispute resolution solicitors can help
Based in Watford, Hertfordshire, our expert dispute resolution lawyers can help you to:
- identify the basis on which a challenge can be brought;
- understand the evidence needed to support your claim and help you to gather it;
- assess the strength of your case;
- negotiate with existing beneficiaries to try to resolve the matter amicably;
- suggest alternative methods of dispute resolution if this does not work, such as mediation;
- assess the likely cost of taking court action versus the best and worst possible outcomes;
- consider whether there is anything that can be done to protect your position while the court decides the case;
- make sure that you comply with any relevant time limits and with the rules that need to be followed before court proceedings can be issued;
- bring or defend court proceedings on your behalf; and
- take any necessary action to enforce the terms of any judgment or order made in your favour.