Disputes about Wills and Inheritance

Do you need help with a dispute about a will or your inheritance? 

Disputes about wills, or about inheritance after a loved one has passed away, can be lengthy and expensive to deal with, and extremely damaging for the family members involved if they are not handled sensitively. Disputes can also arise when trusts have been set up, but have not been administered properly.

If you are having any of these problems, then Samuels Solicitors, with our particular expertise in this area, will be able to help you. We are based in Devon, but we are able to help clients with these types of disputes, from all over the UK. 

Why do Will and Inheritance Disputes Happen?

The most common reason for a dispute to arise after someone has died, is if they did not leave a will. If this happens, then the intestacy rules would apply. When there is no will, disputes can arise about whether property should be sold, and about who should have items left behind by the deceased. The best way to avoid this is to have your will drawn up by a professional.

Another cause of inheritance disputes, is if a will was drawn up many years ago, and circumstances have changed. For example, second marriages, unexpected increases or decreases in the wealth of the person making the will, or other issues can lead to disputes. It is therefore very important to keep your will under review. If you have had a will drawn up, no matter how long ago, whether you have done it yourself, whether a solicitor has drawn it up for you, or a will writer, we will be happy to check it for you for free to let you know whether it is compliant with the rules. Contact us to take advantage of our free will checking service today. 

Even if you do have a will, disputes can still arise. Wills are highly specialised and technical documents and it is therefore very easy to fall foul of the rules and not draw them up properly. Disputes over wills are unfortunately on the increase. There are many reasons for this, including:  

  • using an off-the-shelf will that you can buy from a shop;
  • preparing a will yourself;
  • using a non-lawyer to prepare a will; or
  • badly-drafted wills by solicitors.

The increase in second marriages and second and step-families means that a properly drafted will is more important than ever to avoid disputes occurring after someone has died.

Certain organisations use the provision of cheap wills as an enticement for clients to enter into other transactions. In a recent case involving Barclays Bank, the bank's poorly drafted will which had cost their client £90, lead to a £400k claim against the bank after the client had died. Click here to read more about this case. 

A family fall-out over a will can have long reaching consequences if it is not dealt with quickly and professionally and there are many reasons why a will could be declared invalid, or why disputes can arise after someone has died. 

When Can a Will be Declared Invalid?

Wills can be declared invalid if they:

  • fail to comply with legal and technical formalities;
  • if they are obtained by duress or undue influence, against the wishes of the person making the will; or
  • if the deceased did not have capacity when the will was made, for example if they have had a stroke or have advanced dementia.

In more unusual circumstances, a will could be a fake or a forgery. In these circumstances, we will often need to instruct a handwriting or other expert who can provide their opinion about the signature on a will. 

If a will is invalid, usually the intestacy rules would apply, which means that your estate, or your loved one's estate could end up being distributed according to the rules, and not as you or they would have liked. 

If someone is challenging the validity of a will, or if you think a will was not valid for some reason, then we can help. 

Do Wills have to Provide for a Spouse?

The general rule is that your will must make provision for your spouse or other dependants. 

Disputes can therefore arise where a will fails to make provision for

  • a spouse
  • a cohabitee
  • a former spouse
  • children, or
  • other dependants.

The law in this area changes regularly and it is important to take up to date expert advice. If you have already got a will, and you are not sure whether it makes provision for your dependants as it should, according to the rules, we will check it for you for free. 

Our Expertise in Dealing with Will Disputes 

Disputes concerning wills and inheritance can be particularly distressing for families, particularly those who have recently become bereaved. In these difficult circumstances, Samuels’ experienced contentious probate solicitors can advise quickly and effectively about what you should do, as the time limits you have to take action are often very short.

Samuels Solicitors have been assisting clients with problems concerning wills for over 25 years and offers arguably the best legal advice in North Devon in relation to disputes about wills and inheritance. 

You having nothing to lose by contacting us, as we will provide you with an initial assessent of your case for free.

The Cost of Dealing With Will Disputes

We understand that you may not be in a position to fully fund a case from the outset and this is why we try to help clients with fees wherever possible.

We strongly believe that you should have access to justice where you have a strong case and so we will always consider your funding options with you and help wherever we can. This can include conditional (no win no fee) agreements where appropriate. In some cases, such as where there is a property will be sold, we can agree to defer our fees until the end of the case. 

You may also have insurance, perhaps as part of your building and contents policy, which will help cover your legal fees. We will investigate this with you at the outset and can deal with your insurance company on your behalf. 

What About Disputes About Trusts?

Trusts can be complex financial vehicles to manage money after someone passes away. A trust can be set up for the benefit of family members, often for the purpose of tax efficiency.

If Trusts are not set up properly, or if they are not administered properly, there can be serious consequences for the beneficiaries of the trust.

The partners at Samuels also have extensive experience of acting as professional trustees, and in bringing high value breach of trust claims against former trustees who have failed to administer trusts properly. If you are having problems with a trust, or with the trustees running the trust, then we will be able to help.

What to do next

If you have a dispute about your inheritance, if you want to dispute a will, or if you would like your existing will checked for free, contact us for a no obligation,  free initial discussion today. 

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