Challenging a Will
  • 27th Jun 2016

Types of Inheritance Claims

The legal field is experiencing a substantial increase in the number of inheritance claims. Recent years have shown that high profile cases have rarely been out of the headlines!

There are a number of ways to make an inheritance claim.

Below we list the most common types of claim made. In each case it is crucial to seek legal advice early to explore options and the merits of a case.

At Whitehead Monckton we have years of experience in these types of cases and can assist you in bringing or defending them.

Challenges to the validity of the Will

In certain circumstances a Will may be declared invalid. This can alter how the estate passes to the benefit of those contemplating bringing a challenge to a Will.

Such circumstances include:

  1. If strict legal requirements on the formalities of the completion of the Will are not followed by the person making the Will and the witnesses
  2. If the person making the Will did not have mental capacity at the time of its signing.
  3. If the person making the Will did not know and approve of the contents of the Will signed
  4. If fraud had been exercised over the person signing the Will

It is extremely important to seek legal advice on such a claim early as evidence will need to be reviewed and possibly obtained from the estate. If sufficient cause can be shown in some of the above claims then it is for the Executors to prove that the person signing the Will completed it validly.

Family provision claims

Certain family members and financial dependants are able to bring a claim against an estate. The requirement is for the person to show that the financial provision left for them by the Will or Intestacy Rules (the way an estate passes where there is no valid Will) is unreasonable.

The persons that can bring a claim include:

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Cohabitant
  4. Persons treated as a child
  5. Financial dependants
  6. Step-children

Such claims are becoming more frequent and due to strict deadlines in bringing a claim of this type within 6 months from the date of the grant of probate it is essential to seek legal advice very early.

Broken promises

Where a deceased has made assurances during their lifetime to others about how assets are to pass on their death which has led to others relying on the assurances to their detriment there may be a case to enforce the assurances if the assets do not pass as promised.

There is detailed case law on these types of claim which often involve property or businesses. For such cases to succeed there is criteria as set out in case law which needs to be met.

Deathbed gifts

It is possible for gifts to be made in contemplation of death which bypass a Will and the Rules of Intestacy.

For such a gift to succeed it must be made in contemplation of death, be contingent on death and handed over – either the asset itself or title of it.

There is much case law on this type of claim.

Executors

If a claim is threatened or brought against the estate or Will it is very important that Executors tread carefully. In certain cases if Executors do not act neutrally then they could expose themselves to the criticism of the courts or a personal costs order. Therefore it is paramount for Executors to be advised at an early stage as to their position.

Contact

If you have any queries regarding a possible claim against the estate of someone who has died then please contact Stephen Beck on 01622 698017 or by email to stephenbeck@whitehead-monckton.co.uk