Probate is an important process that takes place once an individual passes away. If the deceased created a will, the executors and beneficiaries can apply for a grant of probate so the assets can be distributed. This can take a few weeks to process, and in this time, disputes can arise from relevant parties who believe they are entitled to some of the estate. In some cases, parties may claim that the will is invalid and therefore cannot be accepted as the deceased’s real last will and testament. When it comes to probate, there are many myths that need to be acknowledged and disproved immediately, and our inheritance solicitors are here to help.
Here at Van Eaton Solicitors in Streatham, we have years of experience in dealing with inheritance and probate disputes, providing our clients with the best legal advice to decipher whether their case has merit and is worth pursuing. When applying for probate, try to avoid these common misconceptions to help the process run smoother, reducing your stress and the emotional toll it can take…
A “Will Reading” Must Take Place
On some TV shows and films, you may have noticed that they follow a certain pattern when it comes to distributing the estate. In 2019, crime and mystery thriller “Knives Out” showed us a family eagerly gathered around a solicitor as he read out the contents of their relative’s will, only to be left shocked by the outcome. This is a common trope in the media, but it isn’t all that common in real life. In fact, it’s a Hollywood myth. Solicitors will not insist on the family gathering to discover the contents of a will, as beneficiaries will usually find out what they have been left in a letter.
Our inheritance dispute solicitors can assist you if you have a claim to bring against a deceased person’s estate. If you discover that you have been omitted from a will and you have rights under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, you could be entitled to some provisions from the will. To find out more concerning how you can make a legal claim, please visit our services page here.
The Probate Process is a Short One
If all aspects of the probate process run smoothly, it can take an average of between six to twelve months for the estate to be distributed. Even if the deceased has named their beneficiaries and executors, obtaining a grant of probate, and collecting all the necessary evidence to get processes moving, can still take a long time. If the estate is particularly complicated, or relevant parties bring claims against the estate, the probate process can take several years to complete.
Even engaging the services of the very best inheritance solicitors, probate is not a short process. However, will dispute solicitors in Streatham understand the emotional toll probate can have on a deceased person’s loved ones. Therefore, we work hard to ensure that the probate process is as streamlined as possible, distributing the estate to the right people efficiently.
Anyone Can Contest a Will
Unless you have a valid reason for contesting a will, or you are a relevant person who has a personal, close connection with the deceased, you cannot make a successful probate claim against an estate. Common claims include questions of the will’s validity, discussion surrounding the deceased’s mental capacity and whether they were under undue influence. If you have a strong belief that a will is invalid, you should seek expert legal advice from an inheritance solicitor as soon as possible. This way, you can begin to gather the necessary evidence.
If you decide to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, you must have had a close relationship with the deceased and therefore be entitled to financial provisions from their estate. Classes of the applicant defined under the Act include:
- a spouse or former spouse or civil partner
- anyone living with the deceased in the two years prior to their death
- a child or anyone treated as a child by the deceased
- anyone financially dependent on the deceased, whether this be partially or wholly
The Will Must Be Executed Immediately
In England and Wales, there are no time limits that dictate when you should apply for probate or distribute an estate. However, you cannot deal with the estate unless you have applied for a grant of probate, so it is advised that you begin processes as soon as possible. If you are the executor of an estate, beneficiaries will be well within their rights to questions your motives if you delay proceedings for too long.
If you have become involved in a contentious probate dispute, our solicitors in Streatham are here to assist. To book a free consultation with our inheritance solicitors today, please give us a call on 0208 769 6739. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form here.
An interesting finding in Reeves v Drew & Ors might be worth a read.
Where a solicitor is engaged in the drawing up of a will, this would usually encourage the Courts view that the will is valid. Conversely, in this case the opposite finding was made!