Can an inheritance be disputed?
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.
An inheritance dispute refers to a situation where the beneficiaries of a Will and/or the deceased’s family members disagree about how the estate should be divided.
Since family disputes over inheritance can be time-consuming and expensive, Tower Street Finance has created a unique product, Inheritance Dispute Funding, for those who cannot fund the costs associated with inheritance dispute resolutions.
How do you challenge an inheritance?
If an inheritance dispute 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.
Seeking the help of a specialist solicitor is the most effective way to avoid an inheritance dispute. Generally, these are the steps that can be taken for inheritance dispute resolution:
- Court proceedings, if an agreement cannot be reached through mediation
How much does it cost to dispute an inheritance?
Pursuing an inheritance dispute legally can be expensive and our research shows that the cost can deter people from seeking what is rightfully theirs.
Tower Street Finance’s 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?
If someone has passed away and there is concern that their Will does not reflect their true wishes, then you can contest a Will or defend a Will claim.
In most circumstances where a personal Estate has been left, a Will can be contested by Beneficiaries within 12 years of the person’s death. However, there are some exceptions under the Inheritance (Provision of Family and Dependants) Act 1975, where claims for maintenance have to be made within 6 months of the Grant of Probate.
What are the grounds for contesting a Will?
If there are concerns as to whether a Will is valid, the first thing to do is to contact the witness or the executor of the Will to obtain further detail as to the circumstances of its execution.
A Will can be challenged if the following concerns arise:
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.
The requirements for the mental capacity to make a Will are set by test for Wills made after 1st April 2007, as per 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.
The deceased did not properly understand and approve the contents of the Will
Suspicious circumstances that lead to challenging a Will 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
Forgery and fraud
If it can be proved that the Will has been forged, or that someone impersonated the testator, the contested Will becomes invalid.
A Will may be challenged due to a clerical error or a failure to understand the testator’s intentions.
If either of these happens the court will rectify the Will. A claim of this nature must be issued within six months of a grant of probate being issued.
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 it 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 attend 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 if 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 the 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 challenge the validity of a Will.
What is 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.
Who can contest a Will?
People eligible to challenge a Will 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 before the death
- a child of the deceased (including adopted children)
- any person (not being a child of the deceased) who was, at any time a party of 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 other person who immediately before the death of the deceased was financially dependent, either wholly or partly, on the deceased
How to handle inheritance disputes?
Seeking the help of professional lawyers who can deal with inheritance dispute resolutions is the most effective way to save money and time when challenging a Will.
At Tower Street Finance, we can help you find a solicitor to help you challenge a Will or with inheritance dispute resolutions.
To find out more about our inheritance products and how we can help you fund your inheritance dispute, you can contact us here.