Inheritance Dispute Lawyers

If an individual feels that reasonable financial provision has not been made for them in a person’s will, they can bring a claim against the estate.

The death of a loved one can be an extremely emotional and difficult time. The upset and turmoil can be heightened further if the deceased did not have a valid will or if there is a dispute over the will’s terms.

The Wills, Trusts & Estates Solicitors at Lupton Fawcett have the experience and understanding needed to help relieve some of the strain you are under and to resolve matters as quickly as possible so that you can focus on your emotional well-being and recovery.

About Inheritance Act Claims

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Defendents) Act 1975 is designed to protect any dependents of the deceased who have not been adequately provided for by the original will or the rules of intestacy, if a valid will has not been made.

To bring such a claim, an applicant must fall within one of the following categories:

  • A surviving spouse or civil partner.
  • A former spouse or civil partner (if they have not remarried or entered into another civil partnership).
  • Children or anyone treated as a child by the deceased.
  • Cohabitees who have been living with the deceased as a spouse or civil partner (even if not married or in a civil partnership), for at least two years immediately prior to their partner’s death.

In order to make a claim under the Inheritance Act, certain strict criteria must be met and the courts will consider the financial circumstances of the applicant and any dependents they may have now or in the future.  Our inheritance specialists will review your full circumstances and can advise if you are eligible to make a claim.

There are also specific situations that are not covered by the Inheritance Act, where an individual may also be entitled to claim against an estate. For example:

  • If the deceased had any agreed financial obligations or responsibilities to the claimant, such as paying off a loan or covering school or tuition fees on their behalf.
  • If the deceased had wished to make a financial gift to someone who was not a dependent or a charity.
  • An estranged relative of the deceased, where there had been attempts of reconciliation.

Is the Will Valid?

There are a series of strict formalities that must be followed in respect of the preparation, signing and witnessing of a will, otherwise it is not legally valid.

Circumstances under which a will can be challenged include:

  • The deceased has not updated their will since they have been either married or divorced.
  • The signatures have been forged.
  • Witnesses have been coerced into signing the will.
  • Witnesses have not known or approved what they are signing.
  • Witnesses have lacked the mental capacity to legally witness the document.
  • Mistakes have been made in the drafting of the will.
  • An individual has been coerced into changing their will.
  • An individual has lacked the mental capacity to understand the consequences of altering their will.
  • An individual has been promised something in a will, which has not then materialised.

We will advise you on the validity of the will in question and whether there are grounds to challenge all or part of it.

Our specialist team can help you with:

  • Challenges to the validity of a will.
  • Claims involving fraudulent trusts.
  • A will not documenting any item or asset that has previously been promised as part of an inheritance plan.
  • Claims involving the construction and/or rectification of the working of a will.
  • Claims involving mutual and mirror wills.

Can I Remove the Executors and Trustees?

Some executors and trustees should not continue to act due to negligent behaviour including poor decision making or taking from the estate for their own benefit.

Executors and trustees can be removed from their position or give up their roles voluntarily at any point before or after they have begun to officially carry out their duties. Ideally, in the event there are grounds to remove them, it is best to try and persuade them to renounce their office voluntarily but sometimes, depending on the accusations against them, this may not be possible and a court order may be required.

We can also advise on situations where you want to force a named executor to accept or refuse a grant of probate.

Will I Have to go to Court?

Court proceedings should always be considered as a last resort and should not be entered into without proper thought about the consequences. Alternative methods should be first sought to find a resolution and we have an excellent track record of success through negotiation, arbitration and mediation, often referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR.

We have considerable ADR experience and more the than 80% of our clients have so far resolved their disputes without the need for court proceedings. Where ADR doesn’t produce a resolution, clients can rest assured that everything discussed in these meetings is confidential and ‘without prejudice’, meaning that it can’t be referred to in court at a later stage.

Whatever the case or situation, we will take decisive action and will advise you on the right approach for the best chance of success.

Our Inheritance Dispute Services

Our experience of representing both those bringing and defending claims is extensive and includes charity clients who rely on income from legacies provided under a will.

  • Making a claim

There are many ways in which a beneficiary can claim their entitlement, which does not require court intervention.

We have helped many clients receive their entitlement through negotiation or mediation alone and will only pursue a claim through the courts where absolutely necessary.

  • Defending a claim

If you are facing a claim brought against the estate, we can help with:

  • Proving the validity of a will
  • Disputes between beneficiaries, executors or trustees
  • Bringing proceedings to rectify a mistake in a will
  • Proceedings to revoke a grant issued to someone other than yourself
  • Injunctions before or during the legal proceedings
  • A Beddoe application to seek the court’s approval for your actions
  • Any claims, including for professional negligence, to recover any losses to the estate.

Assistance for Executors and Trustees

We have acted on behalf of both professional and lay executors and trustees across many cases involving disputed estates and trusts.

We can provide reassurance and guidance on how to proceed and can help to issue court proceedings where reasonable and necessary.

If you are an executor of a will, which is then challenged or contested the pressure and stress placed on you can be immense but you do not have to manage the situation alone. The legal team at Lupton Fawcett can provide you with the specialist help you need and are able to advise on whether the challenge is valid and the next steps to take. Our advice is always clear and straight-forward so you will always be certain of your position and the likely outcome.

Whichever side we represent, we strive to help our clients achieve a settlement out of court wherever possible. Where court proceedings are inevitable, we are highly capable and accomplished litigators, who excel in case building and are rigorous and tactical in the court room.

We are widely accepted to be one of the UK’s leading teams in this area of work and many of our solicitors are members of ACTAPS, the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists.

Whether you feel you have been unfairly left out of a will, not been adequately provided for or are acting as an executor of a will that is being contested, then our specialist team can help.

Our Fees

At Lupton Fawcett, we believe that everyone should have access to support from leading solicitors whenever they need them, regardless of their financial circumstances. This is why we offer a range of flexible payment plans to ensure our legal service is accessible to everyone.  For more information and to discuss you options further please speak to a member of our team to find a plan to suit you and your budget.

Further Information

 So as to help you understand some of the terms often involved with Wills and estates, take a look at our glossary of common terms in our Guide to Wills, Trusts & Estate Management.

If you wish further information on Disputed Wills and Estates or Trusts Disputes, please click on the relevant links.

Contact us

Lupton Fawcett are a leading personal and commercial law firm in Yorkshire with well-established offices of highly experienced solicitors in LeedsSheffield and York.

Our specialist Inhertitance Act Claims Solicitor act regularly for clients across the United Kingdom including Bradford, Birmingham, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield, York and Nottingham.

As recognised Estate Administration Lawyers we can support your needs wherever you live in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Please call the number at the top of this page or leave your details using the enquiry form and we’ll call you back.

We will always respond promptly, and we will be happy to help.

Why Choose Lupton Fawcett?

Having advised and supported many local families, individuals and businesses, we are proud to offer clients a dedicated service from specialist solicitors who are experts in their field:

We're Award Winning

We were awarded the Legal 500 HR/Employment Law team of the year in 2017

We're Connected

We're connected to the people, businesses and infrastructure throughout Yorkshire

We Put You First

You can be sure to expect superb client service from us. Our clients are our priority

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Recognised by leading Legal Directories Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Will valid?

You can validly leave your entire estate on the back of a cigarette pack.  There are however strict formalities that must be complied with in respect of the signing the Will and witnessing of it.  However, even if you have a complicated, official looking Will drawn up by a solicitor your last testamentary wishes may never take effect if the Will is not correctly prepared, signed and witnessed.

A common issue that arises is that marriage usually revokes a Will. Another one is the impact of divorce to a pre-existing Will.  This is unfortunately often overlooked.

Signatures on Wills have been forged. People have pretended to be the testator and tricked the Will drafter. Often, those signing their Will have not had the testamentary capacity to understand the consequences of their Will. Sometimes people have been coerced into signing. Others have signed their Wills without knowing and approving what was in them.

A few have had their minds poisoned by others so that they have excluded those whom they truly love.  Sometimes people make a mistake on the face of the Will with serious consequences. All too often, a person’s signature has not been properly witnessed.  It is not uncommon for people to promise a person something in their Will and then fail to follow through with that promise.

If any of these circumstances apply then there may be grounds to challenge either the entirety of the Will or a specific part of it.

Our specialist team can help you with:

  • Challenges to the validity of Wills, involving, amongst other matters, lack of testamentary capacity, lack of knowledge and approval, undue influence, fraud, forgery or lack of due execution;
  • Claims involving full, half secret, resulting, constructive and sham trusts;
  • Situations where you have been promised something, often land, in return for doing something during the testator’s lifetime i.e. ‘estoppel’ cases;
  • Protecting your interest and/or claim via Citations, Caveats, Warnings, Appearances;
  • Claims involving the construction and/or rectification of the wording of a Will; and
  • Claims involving mutual and mirror Wills.

How do I get my fair share?

There are many ways in which a beneficiary can obtain his or her entitlement. This does not always involve or need the intervention of the Courts.

We have a good track record of ensuring clients receive their entitlement without the need for issuing court proceedings, whether through negotiation or via a more structured mediation process. When necessary, and only if appropriate, we will advise beneficiaries to commence court proceedings.

In some cases, those proceedings may be to challenge the validity of a Will because an earlier one reflects the true last testamentary wishes of the deceased.  In other cases, those proceedings may be brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (commonly referred to as “the Inheritance Act”) to ensure that a dependant receives reasonable financial provision which has not been provided for by the Will.

I am an Executor and Trustee. Can you help me?

We act for both professional and lay executors and trustees in a wide array of cases involving disputed estates and trusts.

Sometimes, the advice given amounts to little more than guidance or reassurance to a lay trustee who needs confirmation that their decision as to how to proceed with a particular problem is appropriate and within the scope of their duty.

On other occasions, our involvement has related to executors propounding (proving) the validity of Wills and trustees seeking permission from the Court to issue proceedings for the benefit of the trust fund.

We can help you with:

  • Proceedings that you can bring to propound (prove) the validity of a Will;
  • Disputes you may have with beneficiaries or with your co-executors/trustees;
  • Bringing proceedings to rectify a mistake in a Will;
  • Proceedings to revoke a grant issued to someone other than you;
  • Applications that you can make to the Court for the Court’s approval for your actions (a “Beddoe Application”);
  • Injunctions in the course of or before proceedings; and
  • Any type of proceedings, including professional negligence claims, to recover losses to the estate/trust.

Can I remove the Executors and Trustees?

Some executors/trustees have taken from the estate for their own benefit. Others should not continue to act because they have done so poorly,or even negligently.

Trustees can be removed from office or they can give up their positions voluntarily. They can be removed either before or after they have taken up their duties officially. Ideally, it is often best to try and persuade an executor or trustee to renounce their office voluntarily, but sometimes, where they have intermeddled in the affairs of the estate or trust, this may not be possible and a Court order may be required.

Conversely, there may be a situation where you want to force a named executor to take out or refuse a grant of probate.

We can help you with:

  • Applications to pass over a named executor or trustee before they have taken office;
  • Applications to remove or replace an executor or trustee after they have taken office;
  • Instructions to executors to accept, refuse or take a grant or to prove a Will; and
  • Proceedings to make an executor or trustee account for monies;

Do I have to go to court?

Court proceedings should be viewed as being the last option.  All too often, parties launch into litigation without proper consideration of its consequences.

Sometimes, however, Court proceedings are necessary where alternative methods of resolving disputes – often referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR – have failed to produce a satisfactory result.

The members of our team have amassed considerable ADR experience in resolving disputes at an early stage before they go anywhere near the Courts.

Mediation remains a popular method of resolving disputes. Most of our clients have enjoyed a positive experience from mediation, with over 80% resolving their differences with the other parties either at the mediation itself or shortly afterwards and as a direct result of what took place at it. Everything discussed at mediation is on a ‘without prejudice’ (i.e. confidential) basis and cannot, therefore, be referred to in Court at a later stage.

In addition, the Dispute Management Department has the benefit of the experience of having two accredited mediators: Paul Houghton and Howard Rutter.

There are many other ways of settling a dispute without the need for court proceedings. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to ADR.  Whatever the case we will work for you to help you decide what approach suits you best.

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