Wills and Inheritance Disputes
Sadly, it is not uncommon for wills and inheritance disputes to arise following the death of a family member. Contentious probate refers to a dispute over the way a deceased person’s estate is administered. It is sometimes possible to contest a will or to make an inheritance claim against the estate.
What is an inheritance dispute?
Inheritance disputes often arise when people have been unexpectedly left out or feel that they have been treated unfairly by the provisions of a will.
It is sometimes possible to make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975, if:
- you were financially dependent on the deceased,
- the will does not make adequate financial provision for you, and
- you fall within one of the categories of people who are eligible to make a claim under the Act
Only certain groups of people are allowed to bring an inheritance claim, including the spouse, civil partner or children of the deceased and other individuals who were financially supported by the deceased prior to their death. In certain circumstances a cohabiting partner, or even former spouse or civil partner, may be able to make a claim.
If you do not believe that the will is valid, it may also be possible to contest it.
Who can contest a will?
Anyone with a beneficial interest in the deceased’s estate can challenge the validity of a will, if they have legal grounds. It will usually be a spouse, child or another person who was named in the will.
What are the grounds for challenging a will?
Valid legal grounds for contesting a will include:
- The person making the will lacked mental capacity to do so
- The person making the will did not understand what was in the will or what its effect would be
- The person making the will was subject to undue influence or coercion
- The will was not executed properly
- The will is forged or fraudulent
How do I contest a will?
If you have a beneficial interest in the will and valid legal grounds, you may be in a position to challenge it. We would strongly recommend speaking to a contentious probate solicitor about your case.
Is there a time limit to make a claim?
Usually, inheritance claims under the 1975 Act must be made within six months of the Grant of Probate (or Grant of Letters of Administration in cases where there was no will). The time limit to contest a will is 12 years from the date of death, except in cases of fraud where there is no time limit.
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