Will & Probate Disputes
Michael Bower (Director/Litigation Solicitor) and Lisa Wood (Director/Litigation Solicitor) both successfully handle a variety of will disputes & probate disputes each year. The litigation team provide straightforward and realistic legal advice.
Why do these disputes happen?
- ‘Write your own’ will or a will writing company has been used.
- Wills are not valid or forged.
- The will maker did not have mental capacity.
- Family members and/or beneficiaries have been unexpectedly left out of a will.
These kind of disputes can cause issues and arguments between family members & beneficiaries. In many cases these disputes could have been avoided if the legal advice had been sought.
1. The mental capacity of the will maker (Testamentary)
The will make must have the required mental capacity to understand what is in your will and be over 18 years of age.
2. Proper execution of the Will
Your signature must be witnessed by two people (preferably individuals who do not benefit from the will) who should sign the document in your presence.
3. Undue influence
You should not be mentally or physically pressured or coerced.
4. Identification of beneficiaries
You must ensure that any beneficiaries are clearly defined. For example, terms such as ‘Gifts to Children’ can cause complications in respect of step, adopted or illegitimate children.
5. Others who could claim for benefit under a will
You must ensure the beneficiaries & the benefit they will derive from your estate is clear. The law recognises those who could make a claim from your estate whether they have been included in your will or not e.g. current or former spouses & civil partners, co-habitees & children.
6. Lost wills
You must always leave your will in a safe place where the executors can find it. If it is lost, then it will be presumed to have been destroyed and, your estate will be dealt with as though you had died ‘intestate’ i.e. without a will. The Laws of Intestacy may work against your wishes so that your estate does not go to who you would like it to.