Defending a will

How to defend a claim made against an estate

There is nothing more frustrating as an executor or administrator to receive a letter disputing or challenging a will. The most important action is to immediately take help.

The issue of a caveat against an estate

Typically, someone contesting a will, will issue what is called a caveat against an estate. This stops probate from being issued. Therefore probate can only be issued if the caveat is removed voluntarily, it expires ( after 6 months unless renewed ) or via the service of a warning. This provides the person entering the caveat a period of some 14 days to enter a reply known as an Appearance. This will set out the basis of the reasons for why the will or estate is being disputed.

Defending a claim against a will – what happens ?

It is important to appreciate that just because there is a caveat against an estate or a letter from a solicitor is sent this doesn’t necessarily mean the will is invalid. Very often we see lots of claims made against estates that simply don’t have any merits whatsoever. Given this a robust defence and reply is always needed.

The response to a particular claim really depends upon why the will or estate is in dispute. So what is the process to resolve a case ?

The starting point is that a solicitor will typically send a Larke-v-Nugus letter, this will ask questions relating to how the will was actually executed, eg. who provided the instructions ? who was present? how were the instructions of the Testator expressed ? did the will differ from previous wills etc, what checks did the solicitor undertake to ensure he had the capacity ? what evidence is there from the witnesses to the will ? depending on the responses medical records/notes maybe obtained.

Depending on the documents disclosed the solicitor acting for the Claimant will then send a formal letter of claim, this should set out the reasons for the dispute and what is being claimed. A reply should then be sent responding to the claim, this is where an experienced solicitors firm like ourselves can help. We can properly assess the merits of claim and advise you accordingly, before responding to the Claimant solicitors. There are always two sides to every case, having someone who knows the law, case law and intricacies of such claims is crucial to fight your corner.

Defending Inheritance Act claims

Claims under the Inheritance Act are always very subjective, and case sensitive. The aim of the Inheritance Act enables a claim to be made against an estate for reasonable financial provision. The law in this area is constantly evolving and changing, and complex. For example, there are strict rules stating who can claim, the time limit is very strict ( just 6 months from the date of probate ) whilst how the claims are actually assessed is equally complex.

How we can help

We act for many Executors defending claims across the UK. If you are faced with a claim – contact Tim Murden on 0844 740 1637, or e-mail tim.murden@tmsolicitors.co.uk

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