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How to Defend a Claim Against an Estate and Will

If you are the Executor or Administrator, there is nothing more frustrating than finding out that a Caveat has been issued preventing probate and delaying the estate administration.

If you find yourself in this position, the starting point is always to seek independent legal advice from a Solicitor that has had no involvement in the actual drafting of the will. This is important as there may well be a potential conflict in using the solicitor that has drafted the will, for example the will may have been drafted poorly, or alternatively the Solicitor may have failed to test the Deceased persons capacity.

Whatever the dispute we can advise families quickly and cost effectively to ensure that the dispute gets resolved as quickly as possible, enabling the probate process to be started.

How to remove a Caveat?

Sometimes Caveat’s are issued incorrectly against estates despite the will being perfectly valid. For example, a caveat would not be appropriate if there are concerns about the Executor or if there is a claim for Dependency under the Inheritance Act.

If you have found out that a caveat has been issued incorrectly against an estate, we can advise the Executors on the appropriate procedure to remove the Caveat which typically involves the issue of something called a Warning to a caveat. This is served on the person entering the caveat and means that unless an appearance is issued ( within 8 days ) the Caveat will be removed.

Examples of successful defences of claims made against estates

Successful defence against a claim of undue influence

Acted in the defence of a will alleged to have been made under Undue Influence, through careful gathering of witness evidence we were able to argue that none of the key factors required for undue influence namely, there was no evidence of fraud or coercion, the physical and mental strength of the deceased was not in question, while crucially the evidence of the witnesses demonstrated the deceased had acted freely when making the will.

Outcome : the claim was defeated in its entirety

Successful defence against a claim against an inheritance act claim for financial dependency

Recently acted in a case in which an unmarried partner made a claim seeking the majority of the estate. The gathering of evidence demonstrated that the parties effectively lived separate lives and the surviving partner had ample income upon which to live her life. There was no evidence of financial dependency.

Outcome : the estate made no payment to the Claimant

If you are the Executor and need help removing a caveat or advise on a contested probate matter contact us now on 0845 568 4000.

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