Disputed Wills and Probate

We all know that losing a loved one is one of the most devastating and stressful events that can happen in someone’s life, often listed as one of the top three along with divorce and moving home.

You might be forgiven for thinking that things cannot get much worse at that time, until you find that your loved one may have been taken advantage of and persuaded into changing their Will to benefit someone unexpected, or have cut you out of their Will altogether without any explained reason. Or, it may be that you are accused of placing pressure on your loved one, when all you did was help and assist them in the time shortly before their death. If this situation sounds familiar, do not despair, we are here to help.

Our team of specialists cover a wide range of disputes concerning Wills, dealing with Probate and powers of attorney, and are happy to help with any query you may have, even if just to give you peace of mind.

Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

Many people are surprised, and sometimes horrified, to know that as a result of the I(PFD)A 1975 above people can make a claim against a deceased’s Estate even if they haven’t been provided for reasonably under the deceased’s Will, if they fall within one of the categories specified as summarised below:

  • spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  • a former spouse or former civil partner of the deceased, who has not remarried;
  • a child of the deceased;
  • any person treated by the deceased as a child of the family due to a marriage, civil partnership or the deceased’s role in the family;
  • any person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being wholly or partly maintained by the deceased;
  • a person who lived in the same household as the deceased as their husband or wife, during the whole of the period of two years ending immediately before the deceased’s death;
  • a person who for two full years immediately before the date when the deceased died the person was living in the same household as the civil partner of the deceased.

Whether a Will has been made or the Estate is being dealt with under the intestacy rules, the above people may still be entitled to bring a claim, reducing the amount to pass to other beneficiaries. Here at Oxley & Coward we can help you understand your position, whether you are making a claim or defending a claim which could ultimately reduce your inheritance. Timescales are key in these types of claims so make sure you don’t delay, make an appointment today!

Contested Will

Although a Will comes to life after a person’s death it does not necessarily mean that it cannot be challenged, either under the I(PFD)A 1975 explained above or otherwise. Wills can also be challenged on the basis that they have not been prepared correctly, for example they may not have been dated, or they may not have been signed and witnessed correctly, making them invalid. Alternatively, it may be that pressure was placed on the person making the Will for them to either make or alter a Will in a certain way, adding someone in or removing someone affecting how the Estate is ultimately dealt with and passed after their death. If this is the case, and it can be proven (for example by obtaining a copy of the Will file and showing that the Will maker was accompanied to the meeting to make the Will and could not give considered reasons for their choices), then it may be possible to challenge the Will so that the Estate does not have to be dealt with in accordance with it.

There is a specific way to obtain a copy of a Will file in this situation if you are an interested person, and our team can explain the process to you and guide you during this difficult time.

Contested Powers of Attorney

As the nation becomes older, it is unsurprising that more and more people feel the need to be prudent and put into place the relevant powers to allow someone to deal with their personal and financial affairs when they are physically or mental unable to do so themselves.

It is not unknown however, for people to apply to take over a person’s finances by claiming they have lost mental capacity, when the individual is still fit, well and able to make decisions for themselves. Unfortunately, it has also been known for those trusted to be appointed to look after a person’s needs to take advantage of them for their own benefit, possibly using funds incorrectly. In these circumstances it is advisable to act quickly, before a person’s finances and affairs have been damaged beyond repair.

Our caring team can provide you with support and guidance through these difficult claims, whether you are bringing the claim, or defending a claim because you have been accused of breaching your duties. We can explain the possible outcomes and costs to you clearly, so that you can make an informed decision as to how best to deal with your case, for all concerned.

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