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Disputed wills on the rise

View profile for Michelle Hayter
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Contentious probate cases have risen sharply in the last few years. This may be due to people having a better knowledge of their rights and entitlements and also to the increasing numbers of second and even third families. It is becoming more common for wills to be contested by second families and there is confusion over who is entitled to what.

Many people still fail to make a will which leaves the decisions on how the estate should be divided between surviving relatives down to the to decide.

A claim for financial provision can be made when:

  • someone who expected to benefit from a will has been excluded
  • members of the family (particularly extended families) do not benefit from the estate
  • the will is distributed contrary to the apparent wishes of the deceased
  • there is evidence that the will was made under duress or without mental capacity to make it

There are strict time limits in which to make a claim – these can be as short as six months from the date of death, so it is vital to seek legal advice as early as possible. Some other reasons to seek advice are if:

  • you believe the signature on a Will has been forged
  • executors of the Will disagreeing over the administration of the estate
  • you are unhappy over the way the estate is being administered
  • there is disagreement over the interpretation of the Will

Michelle Hayter, a Partner in our Dispute Resolution Team who specialises in contentious probate, says, “Litigation should always be seen as the last resort. It can be very expensive and sometimes court expenses and fees are not able to be paid from the deceased’s estate. It is important to get legal advice from someone with experience of contested wills so that you can take the right steps. Usually, we try to find an amicable solution between aggrieved parties and to negotiate an agreement without having to resort to taking the case to court.”

For a free initial meeting please call 01202 499255 and Michelle or a member of her team will be happy to discuss any questions you may have.