Once you’ve decided that you’re going to contest a will, you need to act strategically and efficiently. Handling a deceased’s estate can be extremely upsetting and becoming embroiled in probate disputes can make the mental strain of the event even more distressing. Luckily, there are ways in which you can achieve your desired result quickly and effectively, but this will depend on the quality of the legal advice that you receive.
Here at Van Eaton Solicitors, our dedicated team have years of experience in civil litigation, spanning from contentious probate to commercial property disputes. We can assist you throughout your claim, providing professional dispute resolution and legal advice to grant you with the result you desire as efficiently as possible.
Read our article below to see how you can effectively contest a will, and the legal disputes you may encounter during your claim.
Check the Requirements
Not everyone can contest a will and acquire a grant of probate. You must either be an immediate family member, spouse, child, cohabitee or be mentioned expressly in the will to make a claim, and you must have a valid reason to do so. If you simply do not like the content of the will, you may not have sufficient grounds to make a claim.
Your reasoning must be explicit and backed up with reasonable evidence. For instance, if you’re claiming under the Inheritance Provision for (Family and Dependants) Act 1975, you must prove that being excluded from the will has left you struggling financially, and there are certain criteria you must meet to lodge this inheritance act claim in the first place. You can read more about the Act in our previous article here. It should be noted that it is notoriously difficult for adult children to make a successful claim under this Act, alleging that they were financially dependent. Strong evidence would be required to support such a claim.
Furthermore, you can contest a will if you believe the document to be invalid. Reasons for this include the belief that the deceased did not have the mental capacity to draft their will, or they were under undue influence, they were coerced, or their signature on the will was forged. The burden of proof falls upon the person making the claim, so you must ensure that you have the necessary proof to be successful. Here at Van Eaton, our civil litigation solicitors can assist you throughout your will and probate disputes and can help you gather the necessary proof needed to make a successful claim. You can read our previous article on who can contest a will here.
Although the distribution of an estate may take some time following a person’s death although there is no fixed time limit, and much is dependent on the backlog that the Probate Registry may or may not be dealing with. You have six months from the date of issue of the grant of probate to make a claim, but again different time constraints may apply depending upon the nature of your claim.
If you’re making a claim under the Inheritance Act, you have six months to seek legal advice, gather evidence and issue your claim. If you’re a beneficiary making a claim against the will, you have 12 months from the date of death, and if you believe the will was made fraudulently, there are no time constraints.
Lodge a Caveat
Lodging a caveat is the legal procedure of stopping a grant of probate being issued. You must have reasonable grounds to do this, and once a caveat is lodged, the deceased’s assets cannot be distributed. A caveat only lasts six months, so you must act quickly when gathering evidence. You must be 18 or older to lodge a caveat, and you can either do this yourself or through a solicitor.
You can only lodge a caveat if you have genuine reason to prevent distribution or to challenge the validity of the will. Reasons include the belief that the deceased’s will was not their last, they lacked the appropriate mental capacity, or they were under undue influence. You can read our “How can I stop a probate application?” article here.
Our experienced solicitors here at Van Eaton are fully qualified to assist you with any probate disputes you find yourself involved in, and can guide you through the process of lodging a caveat, and will help you gather the appropriate evidence needed.
Consider Dispute Resolution
Here at Van Eaton Solicitors, we will always work to ensure that your claim is settled through mediation, a form of dispute resolution, and will aim to prevent the case reaching court. However, if an agreement between you and the opposing party cannot be agreed during the caveat stage, then court action may be necessary.