Contested probates are happening increasingly more frequently. In some respects this is not surprising as more people remarry inevitably this can mean that this can become more complicated. If you want to contest a will it is important, however, to have the right representative.
How a will can be contested
Wills can be contested in various ways-
• Undue influence – a person may exert control or pressure on someone to change their will.
• Fraud – there may be evidence of someone altering signatures or even destroying wills.
• Awareness – people often put that they are “of sound mind.” In some cases someone writing a will may not necessarily be aware of what they are doing.
• Maintenance claims – a family member may argue that they are a dependent and therefore should be entitled to funds (note that there is a six months limit to making a maintenance claim).
Contesting a claim
There is a limit to when you can contest a claim. In order to do this you need to get a copy of the will. An executor may however resist this. If this happens then you may need to apply for a caveat to insist that they provide you with a copy.
In the case of making a claim against an estate you have twelve years from the date of death. This may sound like a long time but essentially you need to be sure that what you are doing is valid and that you have a case. This is not as simple as you think.
There is also the issue of the Executor. In theory an executor should act responsibly. However, if they became aware of a claim some may react by disposing of assets. This should not happen but it can and this is why it is important to act as quickly as possible when it comes to a contested probate.
As stated before wills can be complicated. For example, proving that someone is being influenced can be difficult. Also it can be quite a big accusation to say a will is fraudulent or that a will has been destroyed so it is important that the evidence is there.
It can also be difficult in emotional terms – you may find yourself bringing a claim against other family members, questioning the decision making process of the people who originally made the claim.
This is why you need a representative that has the right experience – while having the legal knowledge is important there is also the emotional awareness, the ability to help people through a difficult time. Financial challenges are not just about getting money, in some cases they could be vital in making sure family members are properly looked after.
We believe in being large enough to offer a specialist representation service while at the same time being small enough to provide the care and attention your case deserves.
If you would like to know more about contested probates or would like to discuss representation please contact us today on 023 9244 8100.