Disputed Wills, Trusts & Probate : FAQs
Frequently asked questions:
What if I have been left out of a will or am unhappy with my share?
It depends on the circumstances. Certain family members and financial dependents can claim for ‘reasonable financial provision’ from an estate, under the terms of the Inheritance (provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. If you are considering making a claim or questioning your share, it is advisable to seek specialist legal advice quickly as time limits apply.
The deceased did not leave a will, so the ‘intestacy rules’ apply – this means I will not receive anything/as much as I thought. What can I do?
The intestacy rules state how an estate should be distributed if there is no will. It divides the estate between various relatives and sets out how much each receives. You may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975.
My partner died, they did not make a will and we were not married. What can I do?
The current rules do not have provision for unmarried couples who lived together. If you jointly owned assets, such as property, you need to establish how much of that was/is owned by you and whether a share will be part of your partner’s estate. You may also be able to make a claim pursuant to the 1975 Act.
Can I challenge a will and what should I do if I think it is invalid?
A will can be challenged in certain circumstances, for example, if the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make it. If you think a will is invalid, you need to seek independent advice as soon as possible. One option could be to stop the grant of probate being issued (known as ‘entering a caveat’), which often means the estate cannot then be distributed to the beneficiaries and may give you more time to investigate.
What if the person who made the will was vulnerable when they made it?
If they did not have the mental capacity to make the necessary decisions, were coerced, or did not understand they were making a will, then it may be invalid.
I am a beneficiary of a will and am unhappy about how it is being managed. Can I do anything?
Potentially you can, but as each estate is different and timescales vary, you need to seek advice. You may be able to apply to remove or replace the executor, or you could raise queries, ultimately with a court, about the way the administration of the estate is being handled.
Shortly before their death, the deceased made suspicious gifts of money and property to a third party. What can I do?
If the gifts were made whilst the deceased was vulnerable, for example due to illness, or was coerced, then it is possible to make an application to set aside the gifts and to compel the recipient to return these to the estate.
I believe that there is a more up to date version of the will than that currently being followed by the executors. Can I do anything?
If you know the whereabouts of a later will, you should tell the executors. A court has the power to revoke an existing grant of probate and to issue a new grant to the executors named in the later will.
I am a trust beneficiary, but have no idea what is happening or if I am entitled to anything. What can I do?
You are entitled to seek certain information that relates to your position from the trustees. If you do not receive this or remain dissatisfied, you can apply for court assistance.
Meet the team
Sometimes wills have to be prepared whilst someone is suffering from ill health or during the last stage of their life. In these circumstances it is critical to ensure that the person making the will (known as the testator) is able to satisfy the legal requirements to do so.