Disputes Concerning Wills
If a Will is valid (see Validity of Wills) then the deceased person’s estate will be distributed in accordance with the terms of their Will. This can lead to particular injustices. An example would be a husband who makes no, or inadequate, provision for his surviving wife, despite the fact that they had been married for many years.
Parliament has recognised that there are certain classes of people who should be given the opportunity of making a claim against a deceased’s estate in circumstances where reasonable financial provision which should have been made has not been made.
Such claims are brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Various categories of people are entitled to bring a claim under the Act. Examples of these include surviving spouses; former spouses of the deceased; surviving civil partners; the survivor of a couple living together as man and wife; dependants of the deceased; children of the deceased.
The provisions of the Act are extensive and complex insofar as they identify numerous facts and matters that the Court has to take into consideration in deciding whether or not to make an award from the estate. The relevant factors include the size and nature of the estate; the needs, means and resources of the person making the claim; the needs, means and resources of the other beneficiaries; and in the case of marriage, the length of the marriage and the contribution towards the marriage.
At TWM, our Contentious Trusts and Probate team has considerable expertise and experience in pursuing such claims. The majority of such claims are ultimately resolved without the matter proceeding to trial, although we believe it is important to always prepare and proceed on the assumption that the matter may end up in Court. We, therefore, pay particular attention to gathering all relevant evidence and information necessary to pursue a claim at an early stage in the process.
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