Dealing with disputes over family finances or inheritance can be stressful and emotional. No one wants to be in a position of having to fight family members or friends after the death of a loved one. However, there can be genuine reasons for a dispute and Wills can be contested for any number of reasons:
- If a Will has been improperly completed or executed
- The testator lacked mental capacity to make a Will
- Undue influence was brought to bear on the Testator to organise a Will or organise their affairs in a particular manner
- There is possible evidence of forgery
- A promise has been made by the Testator prior to their death which has not been reflected in their Will
- Disputes arising over the interpretation of a poorly drafted Will
If you believe that you have a dispute over a Will the key is to act fast, preferably before the Grant of Probate is obtained which enables the Executor to distribute the Estate.
If you are disputing a Will, you can lodge a caveat which will temporarily prevent any grant of probate issuing, to afford time to investigate and pursue any remedy.
Excluded from a will?
If you believe you have been unreasonably excluded from a Will, and satisfy a prescribed category of persons entitled to claim, you may be able to apply for reasonable provision from the deceased estate. These applications do however need to be made within six months of the first Grant of Probate.
What are your courses of action?
Sometimes litigation may be the only course of action, but it can slow down receipt of Inheritance and can be costly. Before embarking on litigation, we would always recommend exploring other options for resolving any dispute.
Quite often the disagreements which arise are less about money and more about wounded feelings and deep seated animosity between fractured family members. Mediated dispute resolution can often offer a solution.
Whatever the cause, disagreements with family members at what is already a stressful time usually requires sensitivity aimed at preserving relationships, whilst acting in your best interests.
Kerry Wigg is a partner and disputes specialist at FM&C Solicitors. She may be contacted on +44 (0)7454 866 133 or +44(0)1799 526 849.