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Claims Against Estates & Wills

Left out of a will or facing a claim against the estate of a loved one? Claims against estates are complex requiring the services of an expert inheritance dispute solicitor to advise on how best to approach the claim and resolve the dispute. At Evolve we provide expert advice delivered with a personal approach, to achieve results.

Estate claims

Estate claims cause immense pain and anguish in a family after a bereavement. Expert inheritance dispute solicitors, Chris Strogen and Judith Chesters, are acutely conscious of the emotions an estate claim can create and they do their utmost to provide calm objective advice, delivered compassionately. That way you know if there is a potential estate claim or not and its extent so you can reach a resolution.

Who do we help?

Specialist inheritance dispute solicitors, Chris Strogen and Judith Chesters, can help the person making a claim against an estate or the beneficiaries of a will or the executors of a will. Acting for both potential claimants and estates helps Chris and Judith see both aspects of inheritance disputes so they can provide empathetic expert legal advice.

Legal experts

Will and inheritance dispute solicitors, Chris Strogen and Judith Chesters, have substantial experience in writing wills, estate planning and handling probate matters. That experience helps Chris and Judith give an objective assessment on potential claims against estates to help resolve them out of court or, if Court proceedings are necessary, in conducting the proceedings efficiently and effectively.

Why choose the inheritance dispute solicitors at Evolve Family Law

Inheritance disputes, whether you are challenging or defending a will, can be emotionally charged. That’s why it’s vital to have an expert inheritance dispute solicitor on your side who’ll listen to you and hear your entire story before taking an objective view and offering an honest opinion and focussed advice. Inheritance dispute solicitors, Chris Strogen and Judith Chesters, give easy to understand specialist advice taking a personal approach so you understand your options to resolve the inheritance dispute and achieve the best outcome for you. Chris and Judith work together closely as a team, supervised by one of the firm’s Directors.

Claims Against Estates and Will Disputes – Your Question

You can make a claim against an estate if the deceased left a will or if the deceased died without making a will (called intestacy). If the deceased left a will, you can challenge either the validity of the will (an inheritance dispute) or you can make a claim against the estate because the will did not make reasonable financial provision for you. If the deceased died intestate you can claim against the estate if the intestacy rules (governing who inherits a deceased’s estate where there is no will) don’t make reasonable financial provision for you.

Who can make a claim against an estate?

The law on making claims against estates is set out in the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The law says that certain persons can bring a claim against an estate for financial provision, namely:

  • The husband or wife or civil partner of the deceased
  • The former husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased – provided that they have not remarried and didn’t agree to a financial clean break Order at the time of their divorce or dissolution of civil partnership
  • Anyone who was living in the same household as the deceased as the husband or wife of the deceased for at least two years prior to the deceased’s death
  • A child of the deceased – even if the child is an adult at the time of the deceased’s death
  • A child who was treated by the deceased as a child of the family during a marriage
  • Anyone who was being maintained by the deceased immediately prior to the deceased’s death.

If you do not fall within any of those categories you won’t be able to make a claim against the estate under the 1975 Act but you may still be able to challenge the will as an inheritance dispute.

When can a claim against an estate be made?

A claim against an estate can be made if the deceased’s will didn’t make reasonable financial provision for the claimant. What amounts to reasonable financial provision depends on the size of the estate and other factors, such as other potential dependants of the deceased. There is a six-month time limit from the date of grant of probate to contest a will. The time limit can sometimes be extended by the Court but there is no guarantee that the Court will do so. That’s why it is important to get early expert legal advice from inheritance dispute solicitors to look at the relevant factors, any competing claims, and to assess the prospects of a Court claim and the potential costs of Court proceedings.

What Orders can a Court make?

If the Court agrees that the deceased’s will or the intestacy rules don’t make reasonable financial provision for the claimant the court can make the following types of Orders:

  • Regular payments from the estate for a set period of time
  • The variation of a post-marriage settlement
  • The setting up of a trust, for example, to provide a home for a spouse or a cohabitant to live in during their life
  • A transfer of property from the estate of the deceased to the claimant
  • A lump-sum payment.

How are claims against estates resolved?

If a will is challenged because it doesn’t contain reasonable financial provisions for a claimant, mediation is encouraged to try and reach a resolution. During the mediation process, it is vital that all parties to the potential Court proceedings get expert legal advice from inheritance dispute solicitors so that they know where they stand. If an agreement can’t be reached in mediation, an application can be made to Court.

Can estate claims and will challenges be avoided?

The risk of claims against estates and inheritance dispute litigation can be reduced if a will is professionally drawn up by a specialist will solicitor after exploration of any potential claimants and discussion about options. If it is believed that a person may try to say that the will doesn’t make a reasonable financial provision for them, the person making the will can explain, in a separate letter, why they have made the provision contained in their will. These steps can’t guarantee that a claim won’t be brought but it does minimise the risks. A specialist will solicitors can help prepare wills, sort out probate or discuss potential claims against estates.

For details of our typical fees and expenses, see our prices page.

Get in touch today to see how we can help you.