Discovering that you have been written out of a will can be very upsetting. If this has happened to you what are you options ?
The starting point is always the will itself. If you have discovered that you have been cut out of a will, ensure that you ask the Executor or Solicitor straightaway for a copy, as if you decide to seek legal help the solicitor will need this. Very often the request for a copy of a will will be met with silence or a refusal. It is important to remember that the solicitor acting on behalf of an estate only takes instructions from those persons who has instructed him and therefore unless there is an agreement for the will to be disclosed, requests for disclosure of the will are declined which can lead to frustration.
What happens if the will is not disclosed ?
If the Executor refuses to disclose the will, then seek legal help. As a firm experienced in handling will dispute cases, we would issue a Caveat against the estate. This would prevent probate from being issued and allow time for investigations to be undertaken. The Caveat lasts for 6 months and can be renewed.
There are various ways in which a will maybe contested and frequently information relating to a will is gained via what is known as larke-v-nugus letter which would seek various information relating to how the will was actually executed, eg. who provided the instructions ? who was present ? how were the instructions of the person making the will expressed ? did the will differ from previous wills etc, what checks did the solicitor undertake to ensure they had the capacity ? what evidence is there from the witnesses to the will ? what did earlier wills provide ?
There are very clear protocols that provide that such information should be disclosed, but sadly in our experience it takes a solicitors letter to actually obtain the will.
Challenging the will
Once the will has been obtained and the solicitors file, what next ? well there must be a legal basis to contest the will. Disappointment or been a blood relative is not enough.
Once the will file has been obtained we will closely look to consider the grounds upon which the will can be contested which typically fall into one of the following :-
- Lack of capacity of the deceased to make a claim eg. the deceased may have been suffering from dementia
- Undue Influence. Pressure may have been brought to bear upon the person making the will
- Fraud wills. Issues arising about the will itself – did the deceased actually sign the will
- Broken promises legally known as promissory estoppel claims when the deceased made a promise to leave financial provision
- Claims for financial maintenance from the estate, when financial support was provided by the deceased or need can be established.
- Debt claims. Maybe the deceased owed money to the estate
Contact for help ?
Whatever your concern relating to a will dispute – we can help- we act for clients across the UK. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01482 429985.