Handling a deceased person’s trusts and estate can be a difficult process. When probate becomes contentious, it can make matters even worse. Most of the time, arranging someone’s assets and estate after their death can be a smooth process, but there can be bumps in the road if someone tries to contest their will. When you have to consult probate dispute solicitors, you’ll need all the legal advice necessary to ensure an accurate assessment on the merits of your claim or the claim against you.
There are many sources of will disputes, and it’s important to identify them. Family members of the deceased, as well as those dependant on the deceased, can make claims against a will, but some may have more reason than others. If you find yourself embroiled in contentious probate or estate dispute, our probate dispute solicitors here in London can assist you with your claim and get you the result you need.
For any will dispute, whether it is claims of invalidity or an inheritance dispute under the Family and Dependants Act 1975, there can often be a solution. Would you like to know more about when a will can be disputed? Read our article below.
For a will to be valid, it must be in writing and signed by the testator or someone in their presence. It must be signed in front of two witnesses. A grant of probate must be obtained from the probate registry before the estate is provided. However, one way to claim that the will is invalid, is by stating that the deceased was not of sound mind. If you make a claim like this, the burden of proof is on you.
For a will to be valid in terms of mental capacity, the deceased must have understood what they were doing, be aware of their property, and have no mental illness which could ‘pervert his sense of right.’ In claims such as these, the medical records of the deceased could be crucial. Here at Van Eaton, our probate dispute solicitors can assess your contentious probate claim and will recommend the most appropriate form of dispute resolution.
Lack of Due Execution or Forgery
A lack of execution refers to a fault in the formalities of the will. For instance, if a signature is missing or the signing wasn’t witnessed correctly, it could make the will invalid. Again, the burden of proof is on the claimant alleging the defect in the will. Allegations of forged signatures can be made and are relatively straightforward to prove/disprove. This can be done by engaging the services of a handwriting expert, also known as a forensic document specialist.
This claim applies if you believe the deceased was pressured or coerced into making or signing their will. If you make this claim, the burden of proof falls on you to prove without a doubt that the deceased was unduly influenced. However, it should not be presumed that just because someone in a position of trust received all the assets, that undue influence took place.
Because this claim is synonymous with fraud, the burden of proof falls upon the one making the claim. Here at Van Eaton, our probate dispute solicitors can help assess your claim and gather the proof needed to be successful. We appreciate how difficult will disputes are, so we always treat our clients with compassion and respect, as well as working hard to secure a suitable outcome.
The Deceased Did Not Understand the Content
If you’re claiming under a lack of mental capacity, or that the deceased didn’t fully understand the contents of the will, you can arouse the suspicion of the court by making a range of different points. For instance, if the deceased was hard of hearing, visually impaired or had a condition such as dyslexia, the courts may be more likely to pass the will as invalid.
Our solicitors here at Van Eaton are experienced in handling will disputes, so your claim will be handled with the utmost care and attention. We always aim to settle your claim through negotiations, but we will also provide you with the best advice and support if your claim goes to court. If you find yourself embroiled in a probate dispute, please do not hesitate to get in touch for a consultation. Please fill out our online form here, or you can call us on 0208 769 6739.
Van Eaton Solicitors, Streatham