Bereavement is difficult, but it is even more stressful when you have reason to question the will left by the deceased (or whether they even left one at all). Most people do not want to have to contemplate Court proceedings in those circumstances, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Unfortunately, sometimes issues come to the fore when someone dies – such as who owns a property. We are frequently instructed by someone who faces losing their home because the owner has died (often their partner or a parent) and other beneficiaries of the estate want the house to be sold.
Generally, a person can leave his money and other assets to whoever he wishes by making a will. The wishes in a person’s will are usually upheld. If no will is left, then the estate will be divided according to the intestacy rules. Under the intestacy rules, nothing is left to cohabitees who are not married, which may not be what the deceased wanted or expected to happen.
However, there are circumstances where it is possible to challenge a will or an intestacy.
You can challenge a will where it has not been made properly (for example it has not been signed) or where it is forged. You can challenge a will where it has been made as a result of undue influence – where someone has put pressure on the deceased to include certain terms or benefit certain people. You can also challenge a will where it has been made by someone who does not have capacity because they are not of sound mind (for example because of dementia).
Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 it is also possible to bring a claim against an estate (whether there is a will or not) for an award where the will or intestacy rules do not make reasonable financial provision for you. If you have been maintained by someone (including where someone has let you live in their house without paying rent or paying reduced rent) then you may be able to start a claim if you are not left anything.
All of these types of cases require specialist solicitors. We know the law, and have a lot of experience of applying it to all sorts of different situations. We are approachable and friendly – we understand that litigation in these circumstances is extremely stressful, and we work with you to achieve the best result. We also understand how urgent your situation might be, and we work quickly to resolve the situation – either by negotiating a settlement or by making an emergency application to the Court to protect your position.