Are You Thinking of Contesting a Will? We Can Now Act For You on a No Win No Fee Basis for Disputed Wills and Inheritance Act Claims
We are specialist Contentious Probate Solicitors Newcastle upon Tyne with expertise in probate and litigation, we are committed to getting the best results for our Clients. If someone close to you has died and you feel you have not been adequately provided for in their Will, please do pick up the phone and speak to us. We would be happy to see for a free initial advice session, and at least then you will have some options to enable you to make a decision as to what to do. We are very experienced and will deal sensitively with any issues and we try to help you put things in perspective at a difficult time.
If you do wish to instruct us, we have a variety of funding options available. We are very pleased that we are now able to act on a No Win No Fee basis for disputed Will matters. This means we will not make a charge for our services if you lose your claim, and you will only pay our charges if you win. For those cases which may not be suitable for No Win No Fee agreements, we also can offer to act for you on a deferred costs basis which means our costs will be paid from the estate assets and you will not have to pay any legal fees until the estate assets have been collected. We understand the difficult financial hardships that can arise in these circumstances which is why we are now offering these funding options. Although not all cases are suitable for our No Win No Fee option, we are always happy to consider potential No win No fee claims in the free initial advice session.
If you do wish to have a chat with us, please feel free to give us a call on 0191 466 1444 (out of normal office hours please telephone 0191 466 1333) and ask to speak to one of our expert solicitors, James Burnett or Amanda Lipman or email to email@example.com
Should you Contest this Will?
The majority of Will disputes fall into the following areas:-
All Wills must comply with the Wills Act 1837 which provides that Will must be in writing and signed by the testator (the person who makes the Will), and witnessed by two witnesses (neither of whom can be a beneficiary) both present at the same time. If the testator is unable to write, someone else can sign the Will on their behalf but only in their presence and only if directed by them.
It is crucially important that both witnesses were there at the time the testator signed the Will, as disputes relating to the execution of a Will often centre on the witnesses. A Will can be declared invalid if it can be proved that one or both witnesses could not possibly have been there and in reality either signed it later even before the testator signed.
The Will arose as a result of Undue Influence
If a person was pressured by another into making or changing a Will, it may not be valid. The concern is that someone had forced or tricked the testator into changing their Will. Although it is acceptable for an individual to be influenced by others when making a Will, it is when that influence becomes “undue” that a Will may be challenged.
Cases of undue influence can involve second or subsequent marriages – particularly if there is a significant age gap or the new spouse married the testator shortly before their death.
Undue influence cases can also involve distant relatives or past friends who suddenly and re-enter the life of the testator at a financially ‘convenient’ time.
Paid or volunteer carers who receive a large bequest despite knowing the testator only a short time can also be viewed with suspicion by family members who had been expecting to inherit.
Claims based on undue influence require a high burden of proof – to the extent that there could be no other reasonable explanation for a testator’s decision to suddenly change their Will.
Where a dependent, or some other potential beneficiary, was inadequately provided for
These type of claims can be made against the estate if it can be shown that the person making the claim was in some way financially dependent on the deceased before he or she died. In these cases the time limit for making the claim is very limited – just 6 months from making the Grant of Probate, and to make a claim you must fall into one of the categories under the Inheritance Act.
Lack of Capacity to make a Will
Was the testator who made the Will fully capable of making decisions? The person executing the document must not be mentally incapacitated, either permanently or temporarily, at the time and must be of sound mind and fully aware of the meaning of the document. Provided that the person is of sound mind at the time of execution, subsequent mental illness or senility will not affect the validity of the Will.
This is one of the most common ways of challenging a Will. Perhaps the testator revised their Will in their later years, when their mental faculties were not as sharp as they were when they were younger.
Each case is different, and a Will is not necessarily invalid simply because the person had dementia or other illness. The leading case of Banks v Goodfellow (1870) established that in order for a Will to be valid, the person making the will must have been of sound mind and had testamentary capacity at the time the Will was made.
To have mental capacity to make a Will the testator must: be aware of the nature of their actions – they must understand that they are making a Will and know the full extent of the property they are bequeathing.
Construction And Rectification Claims
A Will can be contested if it misrepresents the testator’s wishes because it has been drafted negligently.
Clerical errors are one possible reason, but this type of claim can also cover Wills which have been worded badly so that the terms of the bequests are unclear.
Section 20 of the Administration of Justice Act 1982 is the key legislation for Will rectification claims.
Get Expert Advice From Our Contested Wills Solicitors
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things any of us have to go through and the grieving process can be made even more difficult when there is a dispute over a Will. If you feel you have been unfairly left out of a Will, not been adequately provided for or you are acting as an executor and somebody else is contesting the Will, we at Geoffrey Lurie Solicitors are here to help you. If you would like to discuss a matter that concerns you about the Will or the estate of a person who has recently died, then please telephone to speak to James Burnett on 0191 466 1444, or email James.Burnett@geoffreylurie.com for a free, no obligation chat.