There are various grounds which can be used to challenge the validity of a Will and we can advise you in respect of each.

In order to challenge a Will, it is necessary to prove that you are a disappointed beneficiary.  In order to establish whether you are a disappointed beneficiary, you will need advice regarding the content of a previous Will or intestacy.  
Generally, a “disappointed beneficiary” is someone who would have received more had an earlier Will be deemed valid the current Will be deemed invalid or someone who would have benefitted under the intestacy rules if the last Will had not been valid.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who need to challenge a Will.  Our specialist Team of Inheritance Dispute Solicitors have experience dealing with all aspects of inheritance disputes and are here to give you the legal advice you deserve.

 

In order for us to assess whether your claim is worth pursuing then call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

What is the Court of Protection?

Established by the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Court of Protection is specialist Court and is the ultimate decision-maker in relation to those lacking capacity to take those decisions themselves. This could be by way of Alzheimer’s/Dementia, mental heath issues, learning difficulties and other disabilities or acquired brain injuries.

There are come key terms that you’ll hear in regards to the Court of Protection. If someone makes a power of attorney they are the “Donor”, the individuals they appoint to make decisions on their behalf are the “Attorneys”. If a Donor has already lost capacity so cannot choose their own Attorney one is appointed for them by the Courts. These individuals are “Deputies” and have similar powers as Attorneys.

What matters do the Court of Protection deal with?

The most common function of the Court is dealing with day to day applications to appoint a Deputy to manage financial affairs or to make health and welfare decisions, for people who lack the capacity. Sadly, a large proportion of the COP’s function is dealing with disputes that arise during the lifetime of a Donor who lacks capacity and the cases that they see are wide ranging and can include any of the following.

Capacity

Capacity is presumed unless it can be proven that a person lacks capacity. A person is deemed unable to make a decision and lacking capacity if he cannot understand the information relevant to the decision; he cannot retain that information; he cannot weigh information as part of the process of making the decision; and he is unable to communicate even with support.

There is no specific requirement for a professional (medical or otherwise) to carry out an assessment of someone’s capacity.  Someone responsible for providing care to and who is involved in the vulnerable person’s life can carry out the assessment as and when a specific decision needs to be made. That said however, disputes may arise as to whether an individual does indeed have capacity and the ultimate decision maker will be the Court.

Sometimes, Attorneys or Deputies abuse their powers by either overreaching what they are allowed to do or simply ignoring the rules.  For example, people will “gift” money to themselves or a third party without understanding the rules and implications surrounding this.  We have an ever ageing population and vulnerable people are open to financial abuse and sadly, this is something that we see a lot of.

Objections to Registration

When the Donor loses capacity,, the onus is upon the Attorney named to register the power. As part of the process, family members and other interested parties are to be served with notification of a registration. This can often lead to disputes with the family or indeed, concerns being raised by the Local Authority or care provider. Disagreements may arise as to the suitability of that Attorney or whether the Donor lacked the capacity to grant it in the first place.

Decision Making

Disputes may also arise during lifetime as to certain decisions that need to be made. For example, what type of care the individual receives how to invest and use their finances or whether they should receive life saving treatment. These can be very emotive and difficult disputes to manage and ultimately, if the family and interested parties cannot agree, the Court has the overall decision making power.

Statutory Wills

A Statutory Will is one made by the Court of Protection on behalf of someone who does not have capacity to make a Will for themselves. The Court needs to approve the Will before it can be executed to be sure that the contents of the Will are in the best interests of the person who lacks capacity.  Applications for approval of Statutory Wills are commonly made if someone does not have a Will already or if they had previously gifted a property in a Will which has subsequently been sold to pay for care home fees or if they have had no contact with any of the named beneficiaries for many years.

Where all parties are in agreement applications are made without the need for any Court hearings.  However, those materially affected by the new Will need to be given notice of the application giving them the opportunity to raise objections if necessary.  These cases can therefore become contentious even when this is not anticipated at the outset.

Our Successes

Public Guardian v Marvin [2014] EWCOP 47 - In this case, acted for the Respondent who was the appointed Health and Welfare and Property and Finances Attorney for his Father. Social Services reported our client to the Office of the Public Guardian as they alleged that he was not acting in his Father’s best interests in managing his financial affairs and making decisions regarding his health and welfare. The Office of the Public Guardian were trying to revoke the Powers of Attorney and appoint an independent Deputy. 

We argued that whilst the Respondent had not technically had the power to act in the way that he did, this was not done maliciously and nor did the Respondent receive any personal gain from his actions. This argument was accepted by the Court and the judge allowed the Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney to continue.  He also accepted our request that the Respondent be appointed a Deputy jointly with a partner of McMillan Williams Solicitors Limited and indeed, we are appointed Deputy for many individuals.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who need to take their case to the Court of Protection.  Our specialist Team of Inheritance Dispute Solicitors have experience dealing with all aspects of inheritance disputes and are here to give you the legal advice you deserve.

If you are in any doubt regarding any aspect of an inheritance claim call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk to speak to our Estate & Trust Disputes Team.


Hayley Bundey
Hayley Bundey
Partner & Head of Estate & Trust Disputes
  • Have you recently lost a family member or friend and find yourself in the middle of a dispute dealing with their estate?

  • Have you been cut out of their Will unfairly?

  • Have you been left in financial difficulty by their death?

  • Do you have concerns that someone has mis-appropriated the deceased’s assets either in their lifetime or since their death?

  • Are you concerned that the deceased’s Will was signed when they lacked capacity or that they were pressured into signing it?

  • Did the deceased mean to make provision for you in their Will but didn’t get round to it?

You may have a good claim against their Estate and we are here to guide you through the process

We are specialist inheritance litigation solicitors who will professionally and sympathetically handle your case. We know what a distressing time it can be to pursue a claim when you have lost a loved one and are in dispute with your family members or friends.

We are the largest firm of high street solicitors. We are therefore unrivalled in our ability to be your LOCAL FIRM who specialise in this area of law.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone".  We understand that taking the next step to obtain legal advice on inheritance disputes can be worrying for our clients so we have made the process as simple and trouble-free as possible.

We offer an entirely FREE CASE REVIEW where we will discuss your specific circumstances with you and advise on your options going forward including the various ways in which your case could be funded, such as No Win No Fee Agreement.

So why not call our specialist lawyers today for your FREE CASE REVIEW on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

An Inheritance Act claim is pursued under a piece of legislation called the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (the ‘1975 Act’) and is a method of redistributing an estate.

Provided you and the estate meet certain criteria of which we can advise normally FREE OF CHARGE you can show that it was unreasonable for the deceased’s Will (or intestate estate) not to make provision for you (or that it was unreasonable for you to receive the amount that you did i.e. you deserved more) then the Court has the power to entirely re-distribute the deceased’s estate to make provision for you.

Does that mean that I could get the whole estate?

Yes, in theory it does. The Court is obliged to consider a number of factors under section 3 of the 1975 Act in determining what you might receive by way of reasonable provision.

We apply these factors when considering your case and in achieving a negotiated settlement.

What are the Section 3 Factors?

  • Section 3(1)(a) - Your Financial Needs and Resources- i.e. whether you have a need for provision from the estate. This is not only limited to what you currently need to cover any deficit between your outgoings and income but also factors in any future financial needs you may have, particularly if you have young dependant children, a disabled child or you are disabled yourself.

  • Section 3(1)(b) - The Financial Needs and Resources of Another Claimant- the Court will weigh your needs against those of any other person who seeks to bring an Inheritance Act claim  against the estate.

  • Section 3(1)(c) - The Financial Needs and Resources of the Defendants (i.e. the Beneficiaries)- Defendants can run a needs based defence however, the more well of the defendants are, the less successful they will be.

  • Section 3(1)(d) - Any obligation or responsibility that the Deceased owed to any party and any relevant conduct (of the Deceased or the parties)- for example, any financial dependency you had upon the deceased providing for you and any natural relationship which gives rise to an obligation/responsibility for the deceased to provide for you
    .
  • Section 3(1)(e) - The size and nature of the estate - this is where the Court considers if the estate is large enough to make provision and whether the estate is comprised of assets which are capable of making an award.

  • Section 3(1)(f) - Any Physical or Mental Disabilities of the Parties- a Court will consider any disabilities (whether physical or mental) of any of the parties which impact their ability to improve their financial position in the future.

  • Section 3 (1) (g) - Any relevant conduct This may include any promises made by the Deceased to you or the conduct of any party prior to or throughout proceedings.

A Court will weigh up each factor and determine whether reasonable provision should have been made for you and if so, how much provision should be awarded to you out of the estate.An award could take the form of a lump sum, or a regular payment – a Court has wide discretion regarding awards.

We can advise in respect of what award a Court might award you and instead of pursuing the matter via a Court, try and achieve a negotiated settlement for you. 

Who Can Make a Claim Under the Act?

There are 6 categories of claimant under the Inheritance Act, as follows:

  1. A Spouse / Civil Partner -– spouses are not limited to what is required for their maintenance, unlike all other categories of claimant, and the Court  may award you what it considers reasonable in all the circumstances.

  2. A Former Spouse - who has not remarried.

  3. A Co-Habiting Partner.

  4. A Child  - whether adult or minor.

  5. A Child of the Family - this includes anyone who was treated as a child of the family for example, step-children or grandchildren.

  6. A Financial Dependant - this is someone who was being financially maintained by the deceased.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who feel that they have been left out of a Will.  Our specialist Team of Inheritance Dispute Solicitors have experience dealing with all aspects of inheritance disputes and are here to give you the legal advice you deserve.

If you are unsure of which category you qualify under or if you are in any doubt regarding any aspect of an inheritance claim call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk to arrange a FREE CASE REVIEW.

In order to challenge a Will, it is necessary to prove that you are a disappointed beneficiary.  In order to establish whether you are a disappointed beneficiary, you will need advice regarding the content of a previous Will or intestacy. 

Generally, a disappointed beneficiary is someone who would have received an inheritance or an increased inheritance under a previous Will or if the estate had passed on intestacy. 

In order for us to assess whether your claim is worth pursuing then please call or email us today for your FREE CASE REVIEW.

The Grounds of Challenge

There are various grounds upon which the validity of a Will can be challenged.

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

In order for a Will to be valid, the Deceased needs to have had testamentary capacity when making his or her Will. Questions are often raised regarding testamentary capacity if the Deceased was elderly when his or her Will was executed or he or she had a medical diagnosis which affected his or her mind.  We can advise you in respect of testamentary capacity and whether or not a Will is potentially invalid.

Undue Influence

If it is possible to prove that a person was coerced into making his or her Will, that Will may be deemed invalid due to undue influence.

Want of Knowledge and Approval

In order to challenge a Will on this ground the Court needs to be convinced that the deceased did not know or approve what they were signing when they signed the Will.

We Can Help

At MW, our Mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those people who need to challenge a Will. 

If you are unsure whether your case would be likely to succeed on this ground then call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk to arrange your FREE CASE REVIEW.

When advising in relation to inheritance related claims, it sometimes becomes apparent that a gift or transfer (usually of a property) took place before the deceased’s death which may be an invalid gift or transfer because:

  • It was made at a time when the deceased lacked capacity or was being unduly influenced; and/or

  • It appears to have been made in an attempt to defeat a claim against the estate after death i.e. the transfer out of the estate reduces the value of the estate

It may be possible to prove that the gift or transfer was invalid and call the value of the asset back into the estate.

These claims are often fact-specific so please call or email our specialist inheritance lawyers today for a FREE CASE REVIEW so that we can advise you of the options available in your circumstances.

Can I claim my share of a property without being (correctly) represented on the title?

We often find that there is a lot of cross-over between inheritance claims and claims which our clients pursue to obtain a legal interest in a property which they have contributed to financially or which they have been promised and they have detrimentally relied upon those promises. These claims will often also seek an order for sale of a property as well as seeking to define a person’s correct beneficial interest in it.

These claims are referred to as TOLATA Claims (Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 Claims) but also incorporate trust claims. What these claims essentially do is to correct the injustice of circumstances where a person's contribution to a property is not correctly reflected on the legal title or in a legal deed as well as seeking the recognition of the Court for promises made for someone to benefit from property upon which they have detrimentally relied.
We are specialists in pursuing such claims and often find that pursuing such claims, as well as “back-up” inheritance claims, can be a very powerful tool in achieving a just result for our clients.

This type of claim is often fact-specific so please call or email our specialist inheritance lawyers today for a FREE CASE REVIEW so that we can advise you of the options available in your individual circumstance.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who need to pursue a TOLATA claim.  Our Estate & Trusts Dispute Team are specialists in pursuing such claims as well as “back-up” inheritance claims, which can be a very powerful tool in achieving a just result for our clients.

TOLATA claims are often fact-specific so please call on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk to arrange a FREE CASE REVIEW.

Are you an executor who is in dispute with your co-executor and you don’t know how to resolve this in order to complete the administration of the estate?

Are you an executor and a difficult beneficiary is preventing you from completing the administration of the estate?

Are you a beneficiary who feels that you are not being kept informed by the executor and/or that they are not administering the estate correctly?

We frequently act for both executors and beneficiaries when disputes arise which prevent the completion of the administration of the estate. We have considerable experience in:

  • advising in relation to executors’ duties

  • resolving disputes between co-executors

  • resolving disputes between executors and beneficiaries
  • pursuing claims to remove executors who have acted in breach of their duties and replacing them with executors who comply with their duties to complete the administration of the estate.

These cases can be funded on a deferred funding basis which means that you would not need to find monies for legal costs up front.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is to make quality legal services accessible to everyone including those people in dispute with executors or beneficiaries. 

These disputes are always varied and often case-specific, if you are in any doubt call our specialist inheritance lawyers today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk for a FREE CASE REVIEW.

ADR stands for Alternative Dispute Resolution and to the term refers to various methods available to parties to attempt to resolve their claims before (and hopefully without the need to) go to trial.

Mediation

A mediation is attended by the parties together with their legal representation.  It is held in a location agreed by the parties and none of the parties need meet at the mediation if they do not wish to.  The process is entirely voluntary, meaning if the parties agree to it then it is often a good indication that they want to resolve matters without the need for a trial.

Our specialist inheritance lawyers are keen advocates of the mediation process as we have found it to be hugely successful in resolving these claims. We have considerable experience and expertise in the mediation process gained from successful mediations for our clients over many years.

Are there Other Benefits to Mediation?

The benefits of mediation for inheritance claims also extend to:

  1. It is often more cost effective that proceeding to trial.

  2. A mediation can usually be arranged more quickly than a Court would hear the parties case at trial.

  3. Matters which are important to the parties but which would not be cost effective to litigate can be determined at mediation i.e. the scattering of assets or disposal of sentimental items of little to no financial value.

  4. It is confidential

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those people who have inheritance claims they would like mediating.  If you would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW or just want to talk to one of our specialist inheritance dispute solicitors then call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.


 

The most cost effective way of funding a claim is normally by paying privately. 

If you do not have funds available to you, then you may be eligible for a loan from a bank.  We cannot advise regarding any financial products.

Deferred Private Funding

We sometimes agree that costs will be paid from your inheritance at the conclusion of the case.  We will always try and recover as much of your cost from your opponent however, it is rare to recover all of your costs and so the balance could be paid from your inheritance.  You wold need to enter into a contract with the firm to secure such funding arrangement.

Insurance

Sometimes you will have insurance contained on your existing insurance policies (such as household or car insurance) which would cover an inheritance claim. This means your insurers would pay our legal costs. You should therefore call or email us for a FREE CASE REVIEW if you think you may have insurance to cover an inheritance claim so that we can liaise with your insurers to force them to pay our legal costs and thus allow you to choose us as your specialist inheritance lawyers.

No Win No Fee Agreement

This is an agreement whereby we only get paid if we succeed on your claim (when we also then recover a success fee) and if we don’t succeed then we waive our legal costs. Changes in the government’s rules surrounding no win no fee agreements (which came into force in April 2013) have made these agreements more complicated so call or email us today for your FREE CASE REVIEW and we will be happy to explain how these agreements work.

Damages Based Agreement

We are now able to offer this type of agreement as a result of the government changes to funding in April 2013. This agreement is also contingent upon our succeeding on your case (as for a no win no fee agreement) but in this circumstance we would recover a percentage of your award rather than our base costs plus success fee. Call or email us today for your FREE CASE REVIEW and we will be happy to explain how these agreements work.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" and not just those who can afford it. 

If you are considering challenging a will or any other type of inheritance dispute and are worried about your ability to pay fees, call our team of experienced inheritance solicitors today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

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