Estate asset distribution is a crucial part of succession planning. In the United Kingdom, the law allows for the distribution of assets in line with the deceased’s will, or the absence of a will, in accordance with the laws of intestacy. However, there may be times when a person wishes to contest the distribution of estate assets. This article will provide an outline of the grounds for contesting the distribution of estate assets in the United Kingdom, as well as the procedure for doing so.
Grounds for Challenging the Distribution of Estate Assets
There are several grounds on which a person may challenge the distribution of estate assets in the UK. Some of these include:
Lack of Mental Capacity: If the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a valid will, the distribution of estate assets following the will may be challenged. This may include cases where the deceased was suffering from a mental illness, such as dementia, or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when making the will.
Undue Influence: The distribution of estate assets may be disputed if it can be demonstrated that the deceased was unfairly influenced in creating the will. This could include occasions when the deceased was coerced, pressed, or manipulated into making the will.
Fraud or Forgery: If the will has been fraudulently or forged, the distribution of estate assets may be challenged. This may include cases where someone has altered the will without the knowledge or consent of the deceased.
Invalid Will: If the will is invalid due to a technical error, such as not being signed or witnessed in accordance with the law, the distribution of estate assets may be challenged.
Procedure for Challenging the Distribution of Estate Assets
The procedure for challenging the distribution of estate assets in the UK involves making a claim to the court. The following steps outline the procedure for making a claim:
Obtain Legal Advice: Before making a claim, it is advisable to obtain legal advice from a specialist solicitor who has experience in challenging the distribution of estate assets. They will be able to advise on the strength of the claim and the likelihood of success.
Lodge a Caveat: A caveat is a notice that is lodged with the Probate Registry to prevent the grant of probate from being issued. This will prevent the executor from distributing the estate assets until the claim has been resolved.
Issue a Claim: A claim must be issued in the court within 6 months of the grant of probate being issued. The claim must set out the grounds for the challenge and the relief sought.
Serve the Claim: The claim must be served on the executor and any other interested parties. The executor has 28 days to respond to the claim.
Hearing: If the matter cannot be resolved by agreement, a hearing will be held in court. The court will hear evidence from both sides and make a decision on the distribution of estate assets.
In the UK, contesting the distribution of estate assets can be a complicated and emotionally charged procedure. However, in some cases, a challenge may be required to guarantee that the deceased’s wishes are followed and that the estate assets are distributed in line with the law. To ensure that the challenge is launched on the correct grounds and that the procedure is handled appropriately, it is critical to seek legal counsel from a competent solicitor.
Whether you believe you have been wrongfully denied a share of a deceased loved one’s inheritance or you are in charge of managing an estate that is the subject of a claim, our probate dispute solicitors in London will assist you through the legal procedure with compassion. We provide a no-obligation consultation to evaluate your situation and advise you on the viability of filing a claim. Whatever the scope of your difficult trust or probate dispute, we have experience dealing with a wide range of matters and delivering effective legal assistance.
If you need help with a probate dispute, please contact our probate dispute solicitors in London online or by phone at 0208 769 6739, or fill out our online form. We will react to your inquiry as soon as possible.