Whilst we are commonly advised to prepare for death by drafting a will, sometimes it can cause more problems and upset than intended for surviving relatives. For example, a will drafted many years ago that did not anticipate a new addition to the family. Perhaps you were left out of the will having previously been informed you would be included? Does the will seem out of character for the deceased or do you think the will does not represent the deceased’s intentions? In many instances wills are often prepared in later years or under trying circumstances when the deceased may not have had full mental capacity.
You may feel unfairly treated or have suspicions and might assume that there is nothing you can do about the will. However, you would be wrong, and you are not alone. A recent survey carried out by First4Lawyers has found that 43% of people who had been unfairly treated under a will were not aware that they were able to challenge the will in court.
Not only that, but of the challenges to wills that did make it to court, 80% were successful.
With high profile cases such as that of Heather Ilott and Joy Williams, the courts have seen a huge rise in the numbers of challenges brought against estates and wills. However, in practice most challenges never make it as far as the court; a mere 32% according to the same study. Instead these disputes tend to be settled amicably between the parties at an early stage without incurring large legal costs.
My team specialises in wills, estate administration and distribution disputes and is independently recommended. We have extensive experience in various claims such as:
· Challenging the validity of wills due to lack of capacity (e.g. underlying degenerative medical conditions such as dementia), undue influence (from third parties in the will making process) or outright fraud;
· Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 in cases where certain categories of people have not been provided for sufficiently (or not at all) under a loved one’s will;
· Questions as to improper administration of the deceased’s estate.
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