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Tower Street Finance

Disputing an inheritance explained

Answering your inheritance dispute questions

 How do I dispute an inheritance?

 According to recent research by Direct Line Life Insurance, 12.6 million British adults would be prepared to dispute an inheritance and go to court if they disagreed with the division of their relative’s estate.

If a dispute over an inheritance cannot be resolved by discussing the concerns or through mediation, it must be settled legally and after hearing all sides of the argument, a judge will come to a decision.

Pursing an inheritance dispute legally can be expensive and our own research shows that the cost can deter people from seeking what is rightfully theirs. That’s why we created Inheritance Dispute Funding.

Inheritance Dispute Funding is a loan to cover the legal costs to dispute an inheritance and allow you to get what’s rightfully yours. It’s a unique financial product because, unlike others, we don’t ask you to jump through expensive hurdles to assess your dispute before deciding whether to approve it, there are no credit checks, no charges over property, no personal liability and no monthly repayments. 

The Inheritance Dispute Funding loan has been designed to be simple because dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough.    

What does contesting a will mean?

 That you’re disputing it. If someone has passed away and there is concern that their will does not reflect their true wishes then it can be challenged (contested).  

In most circumstances where a personal estate has been left a will can be contested within 12 years of the person’s death.  However, there are exceptions – including a challenge under the

Inheritance (Provision of Family and Dependants Act) 1975, which we’ll explore in more detail below.

What are the grounds for contesting a will?

  1. The deceased did not have the required mental capacity

The person challenging the will on these grounds must be able to put forward real suspicions and proof that the deceased lacked mental capacity when the will was written. If they can do this, the burden passes back to those seeking to prove the will to show otherwise.

But what does mental capacity actually mean? The test for wills made after 1st April 2007 looks at Sections 1 to 3 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.  

In a claim of this nature, the medical records of the deceased, and the opinion of a suitably qualified medical expert, are crucial.

  1. The deceased did not properly understand and approve the contents of the will

Suspicious circumstances could be where the deceased:

  • was hard of hearing, or had a speech impediment
  • was visually impaired
  • had low levels of literacy
  • was vulnerable and the will is particularly complex or unusual
  1. Forgery and fraud

If it can be proved that the will has been forged, or that someone impersonated the testator, the will becomes invalid.  

  1. Rectification

A will may be challenged due a clerical error or a failure to understand the testator’s intentions.

If either of these happen the court will rectify the will. A claim of this nature must be issued within six months of a grant of probate being issued.

  1. Undue influence

It is up to those contesting the will to prove to a court that the will was written under coercion.  

What are the requirements of a valid will?

Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 confirms that for an order to be valid, a will must be:

  • in writing
  • signed by the testator (or someone else in the testator’s presence and at their direction)
  • the testator must intend when signing the will for it to be valid

The testator’s signature must be acknowledged in the presence of at least two independent witnesses.

Can you contest inheritance when there is no will?

If there is no will, or the only will that exists is determined to be invalid, the estate (the possessions and assets, including property, of the person who has died) will be distributed in line with the rules of intestacy. However, it is possible to contest the provision of intestacy under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act if there is belief that the rules do not reflect what the deceased wished to leave as their inheritance.

Can a family member contest a will?

Yes, anyone who has grounds to contest an inheritance can.

What’s the 1975 Inheritance Act?

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (commonly referred to as the ‘Inheritance Act’ or ‘1975 Act’) enables certain categories of people to apply to the Court and make a claim against a deceased person’s estate, alleging that the deceased did not make reasonable financial provision for them.

People eligible include:

  • the spouse or civil partner of the deceased
  • a former spouse or former civil partner of the deceased, but not one who has formed a subsequent marriage or civil partnership
  • any person living with the deceased as spouse or civil partner for two years immediately prior to the death
  • a child of the deceased (including adopted children)
  • any person (not being a child of the deceased) who in relation to any marriage or civil partnership to which the deceased was at any time a party, or otherwise in relation to any family in which the deceased at any time stood in the role of a parent, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family
  • any person (not being a person included in the foregoing paragraphs of this subsection) who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained, either wholly or partly, by the deceased

We can help you find a solicitor to assist with the challenge of a will or inheritance – please contact us here.

 

 

How you can find out more about Inheritance Dispute Funding 

Inheritance Dispute Funding is a loan to cover the legal costs to dispute an inheritance and allow you to get what’s rightfully yours. It’s a unique financial product because, unlike others, we don’t ask you to jump through expensive hurdles to assess your dispute, there are no credit checks, no charges over property, no personal liability and no monthly repayments. 

The Inheritance Dispute Funding loan has been designed to be simple because dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough. 

Find out more here or by completing our simple application form.