When someone dies, it can take an emotional toll on their loved ones as they cope with their lost. When the will is contested, this can cause even greater stress and tension for all parties involved. However, all contentious probate disputes should be dealt with effectively and efficiently; no matter whether you are attempting to contest a will or seeking to defend the distribution of the estate in accordance with its contents, we recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible to get the results you need.
Here at Taylor Bracewell, our will disputes solicitors in Doncaster understand the emotional strain that probate cases can have upon all parties. Therefore, we will handle your case with the utmost empathy, all the while working to present you with the results you need. We can gather all the necessary evidence to help build your case, implementing effective dispute resolution and accompanying you to court wherever possible. To find out more about how you can contest a will, read our latest advice below.
The Deceased Lacked Mental Capacity
The burden of proof when making a claim that the deceased lacked appropriate mental capacity lies with the person making the claim. For a will to be valid, the deceased must understand the contents of their will, otherwise it could be claimed that they lack "testamentary capacity." Parties wishing to contest the will may believe it is invalid if the will does not reflect the deceased's wishes, it does not benefit individuals that you would expect it to, or the current will contradicts promises made earlier. The deceased may have lacked mental capacity if they suffered from health issues such as dementia or Alzheimer's, or if they suffered a brain injury.
Therefore, to prove a claim that the deceased lacked mental capacity, it is worth obtaining a medical report. The party wishing to oppose a claim may also wish to obtain a medical report to prove that the deceased person was of sound mind. Our will and probate team here at Taylor Bracewell understand the intricacies of probate disputes, and can help assess and build your case by gathering the appropriate evidence. To find out more, please visit us here.
The Deceased Were Under Undue Influence
Undue influence applies to any situation where the deceased was coerced by another individual for their own benefit. Bringing a claim like this can be hard to prove, but there are certain factors that you should look out for in order to build your case. If someone benefits greatly from the will who you would not expect, or the changes to the will were last minute and did not reflect their previous wishes, you may have a cause for concern. This is one of the more difficult grounds for contesting a will to prove, but by seeking professional legal advice, you can ensure that your claim is investigated correctly.
The Will was Forged or Not Properly Signed
Proving that a will was forged can be incredibly difficult, as they need to be signed in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign. As forgery is a form of fraud, greater evidence will be needed to make a successful claim. You must check to see if the signature is the same as the deceased's, and you may wish to request the help of a handwriting expert. If you can successfully prove that the will is forged, it will be deemed as invalid. There is no time limit for contesting a will, but you must act quickly in order to be as successful as possible. Once an estate has been administered, it can be hard to get money or assets back. However, if you wish to enter a caveat and stop a grant of probate from being obtained, you will have six months before the caveat runs out.
The distribution and administration of an estate should be a quick and smooth process, but probate disputes can occur, whether an opposing party wishes to challenge the validity or make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. If you would like to find out more, or you wish to arrange a consultation to discuss your options, please give us a call on 01302 341 414 for our Doncaster office, or 0114 272 1884 for our Sheffield team. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form here.