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.
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.
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.
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.