It is hard enough to lose a loved one, but if there is conflict over their estate or will, the suffering intensifies. Consulting an experienced solicitor to help you with a will, trust & estate dispute can make the process less painful. Here are some of the situations you may need legal guidance with:
- Contesting a Will
- Contentious probate
- Inheritance Act claims
- Trust disputes
- Professional negligence
- Concerns over the deceased’s mental capacity to make a will
Contentious probate refers to any disagreement relating to the administration of a person’s estate following their death. Consulting a solicitor should be your initial step if you believe a loved one’s estate is not being administered appropriately. A good solicitor will help you resolve disputes relating to:
- How a will is interpreted
- The value of the related assets
- An executor who has mismanaged the estate
- Disagreements between beneficiaries.
You can also challenge how an estate is distributed if there is no will.
Inheritance Act Claims
You might expect to inherit property from a close relative when they die, particularly if the relative was your parent. However, until 1965 a person could use a will to leave their estate to whomever they pleased, regardless of their spouse or children’s circumstances. Section 117 of the Succession Act changed that by allowing a child to apply to court to challenge the will of their parent if the parent has not provided for them in their will or failed in their moral obligation to do so in light of the parent’s means. Such an application can only be made if the parent has made a will.
To contest your parent’s will under the Succession Act 1965, you will need to establish a need for provision to be made for you. The court will decide based on you and your parent’s full circumstances. Contact an experienced solicitor to bring an inheritance act claim.
Trust disputes do occur, and it is advisable to get legal assistance if you wish to resolve a dispute with a trust. An experienced solicitor can help you if:
- A trustee behaves negligently or fraudulently.
- A trustee ignores another trustee’s breach of trust.
- A trustee administers the trust inefficiently.
- The trust document is not clear or accurate.
- The person who established the trust (known as the settlor) lacked the mental capacity to do so or was forced into it.
- The settlor received negligent legal or tax advice
- The trust documents don’t fulfill the settlor’s wishes accurately
- The trust stops creditors or financial dependents from claiming assets from an estate
- The trust is set up purely to conceal the real legal ownership of the assets.
If you have been promised assets informally by a loved one, but they have not put the details in their will, your solicitor may be able to help you secure them after the person dies. Given that a valid will is supposed to accurately reflect the deceased’s wishes regarding the distribution of their property after their death, the emergence of agreements that were omitted from their will can cast doubt on the will’s validity, causing disputes between prospective beneficiaries. The main ways you may be able to claim against someone’s estate to get assets that you were promised include:
- Proprietary Estoppel
- A claim that you were financially dependent on the deceased and they failed to make adequate provision for you in their Will
- A claim for professional negligence if the pre-death agreement was omitted from the deceased’s will because of an error by the will writer or solicitor.