Will Disputes In The Covid Era

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29 September, 2020

Tom Howcroft
Senior Associate

Although our doors may have been locked over the past few months, the tidal wave of Will disputes has not abated. If anything Will disputes are becoming more common. The courts have physically closed their doors for the majority of, if not all, hearings but the wheels of justice continue to turn with telephone hearings and hearings by Skype. Claims are still being issued, court directions and orders are still being complied with, and court hearings are still taking place.

Although the world may have come to a standstill, the very tight time limits to bring claims remain. There are two main types of Will disputes, those are claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Inheritance Act) and challenges to the validity of Wills.

Claims under the Inheritance Act are claims for "reasonable financial provision" and are essentially money claims against an Estate. There is a time limit of six months from the date of the Grant of Probate to bring a claim and claims cannot be brought outside of this time without the permission of the court. Further, there are a limited class of people able to bring a claim, including:

  • Spouses/civil partners and former spouses and civil partners
  • Children of the Deceased
  • A person treated as a child of the Deceased
  • Those being maintained by the Deceased immediately prior to death.

If you have been left out of a Will, or believe you should have received more, then get in touch and we will be happy to have a no obligation chat with you to discuss how we can help.

Challenges to the validity of Wills are also common and are on the rise. There are certain grounds which make a Will invalid and they include:

  • Lack of mental capacity
  • Lack of knowledge and approval of the terms of the Will
  • Will not properly executed
  • Undue influence
  • Fraudulent calumny (this is where a person's mind is poisoned against another, and because of that a will is changed); and
  • Fraud and forgery.

The time limit to challenge the validity of a Will is significantly longer than the time limit to bring an Inheritance Act claim. However, it is very important that any Will dispute is brought quickly. There is a risk that an Estate could be distributed and the proceeds spent or moved out of reach, which will make a claim significantly more difficult. Therefore, it is important to speak to us quickly if you have an issue with a Will.

We act for local, national and international clients and we are well equipped to ensure we can take clients' instructions thoroughly and properly even in the event we are unable to meet face to face. We can take instructions by telephone, email, using Skype or Zoom, and our offices are set up to ensure we can hold client meetings at a social distance.

For more information contact Tom Howcroft in our Contesting a Will department via email or phone on 0333 207 1130. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Contesting a Will department here

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