Acting as an executor can be a difficult task; the role carries responsibilities, is administratively demanding, and requires dealing with people who are going through a sad and difficult time. Would-be beneficiaries may feel cheated if they believe they have received less than a fair share of the deceased’s assets, and they may decide to file a claim against the estate. But since executors act as the deceased’s representative, if this occurs, they must act fast to solve the problem and protect the estate’s assets.
How can Claims Arise?
With separation, second marriages, and second families becoming much more frequent, claims from adult children who believe they have not been treated fairly under the terms of the will have become increasingly common. Furthermore, as more elderly people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia, claims that the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a valid Will are on the rise. There may be errors in the drafting of a will, as well as in the way it was signed and witnessed.
Investigating the Claim’s Foundation
The first step should always be to review the will. Although a will is not required to be made public before probate is granted, we advise that if a claim is filed, the claimant should be given a copy of the will. In certain instances, this can resolve the situation, especially since it is common for would-be claimants to be on a ‘fishing trip,’ with no actual evidence to bring a claim.
When executors are also beneficiaries under a will, the best bit of advice we can give is for them to stay impartial and seek legal advice on how to proceed.
A caveat can be used by anyone who wishes to contest a will. This is a record filed with the Probate Registry that prevents an estate’s executors from obtaining a grant of probate and distributing assets till the dispute is resolved. A caveat is placed for six months and can be extended indefinitely. We can provide guidance on how an executor should handle such challenges. However, anyone wishing to file a caveat should seek legal counsel first, as caveats should not be filed in all cases.
The Function of Mediation
Mediation should always be regarded as the first choice before going to court. We can go over how this works, the best strategy to take, and what to anticipate from the process once more. We can also provide practical advice on when a compromise might be suitable to keep fees low and protect the estate’s assets.
Contact Our Probate Dispute Solicitors
It makes sense to select a team that not only has proven expertise in dealing with contentious probate but can also draw on their experience of wills and trust disputes. If you are seeking advice on a probate dispute, contact our probate dispute solicitors in London online or by phone on 0208 769 6739 or complete the online form. We will respond promptly to your inquiry.