Defending a will
If you are an executor or beneficiary and have found out that someone intends to contest a will, what do you do ?
The starting point is always to immediately seek legal help straightaway, so that a practical solution maybe undertaken to resolving the dispute escalating, which in turn delays the estate administration.
The most common issues, we find as a law firm that defends wills, against claims are as follows :-
Caveat Issued Against an Estate
It is very easy to issue a Caveat against an estate, it simply involves sending a letter to the probate registry and paying a small fee. Despite this if a Caveat has been issued then, this means that unless it is removed, a Grant of Probate cannot be issued by the probate registry.
Whilst there are many legitimate reasons for a Caveat being issued, we regularly see Caveats issued against estates for non-legal reasons, eg. the person issuing the Caveat may simply be unhappy with the will, with no legal basis for contesting the will, and simply wants to delay the estate administration. If this is the case, we would always recommend that a Legal Process known as a Warning to the Caveat be issued.
Warning to the Caveat
A warning to the Caveat involves the service of a legal document being sent to the person who has issued the Caveat. the warning provides that unless an Appearance is filed within 8 days, then the Caveat will be removed. We find that in many cases this is sufficient for the Caveat to be removed.
Someone is living in the Deceased’s property
We encounter many cases in which the Deceased lived with someone who may not be mentioned in the will. It maybe a partner, a friend or a blood relative. In this type of case, there is the potential for a claim to be made under the Inheritance Act 1975, for reasonable financial provision, on the basis that the deceased, had financially supported the person by providing accommodation. In this type of case, it is important that if a claim is made dialogue with the claimants solicitor is undertaken as clearly the property of the deceased will need to be safeguarded. Obtaining legal advice straightaway can ensure that potential claims are resolved quickly.
Challenge made against the validity of the will
If someone has issued a challenge against the validity of a will, typically this will involve the following process being undertaken. Firstly, the claimants solicitor will want to review the solicitors file and understand the circumstances in which the will was written. The response to this is typically via a Larke -v- Nugus letter, which will provide clarification as to how the will was written, sometimes it will be necessary to obtain details of the medical records as well, if a reasonable request is made then this should be agreed.
If you are an Executor or administrator and want help defending a claim made against an estate or will, contact us now on 0844 740 1637.