Problems with Probate

Problems with Probate

Losing a loved one is hard enough but when problems arise with the administration of an estate or there is a dispute relating to inheritance, it becomes even more difficult and emotions can, understandably, run high.

Whether you are an executor, beneficiary or relative, it is often difficult to know what steps to take when questions are raised on matters relating to someone’s estate.

We have set out the most common problems that arise, in what is commonly known as ‘contentious probate’ matters.

However, it’s important to understand that no two cases are alike as they will depend upon each individual’s particular circumstances.

That is why it is so important to seek professional assistance in order to determine the options that are suitable for you.

If you find that you are facing any of the issues listed here or if you are trying to deal with problems relating to probate matters, please contact us and one of our friendly experts will be able to discuss your options.

If you have been ‘excluded from a Will’ there may be a number of options available to you depending on the circumstances.

There are usually two options available:

  • Challenging the validity of the Will
  • Making a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance Act

If you have been excluded from a Will or someone is threatening to bring a claim where they have been excluded, contact us and we will discuss your options.

It is often the case that Wills are challenged because a testator (the person who makes the Will) did not have ‘the mental capacity’ to put in place a valid Will.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive rule on mental capacity when it comes to writing a Will. There are many cases where the courts have found that someone with advanced stages of dementia still has capacity, and other situations where someone showing no symptoms does not.

If you would like further information on this topic and your options, please contact us for further guidance.

Wills can be challenged on the grounds of ‘undue influence’.

This is where the person making the Will:

  • Was so under the influence of another that they were not making decisions of their own free will
  • Was so scared of the consequences that they made the Will

If you believe that a Will was made as a result of undue influence or someone else is making accusations of this nature, please contact us for further help.

If someone has promised to leave you an inheritance and then fails to ‘make good’ on this, it is possible to legally enforce this promise.

There are many cases which involve farming land, where children work on the farm instead of seeking employment elsewhere, in the expectation they will one day inherit the farm.

However, the principle of this type of enforceable promise can relate to any property or asset including cash and investments.

These are usually referred to as ‘proprietary estoppel’ claims. If you feel that you have been promised assets and this promise has not been carried out, then please contact us for further help.

The person tasked with dealing with a deceased’s estate is referred to as an ‘Executor’. An Executor is usually appointed by someone in their Will.

Executors have certain duties to beneficiaries when dealing with an estate. However, there is often confusion as to when, how and what information the beneficiaries are entitled to.

If you are a beneficiary of an estate and do not feel you are being provided with information by the Executor, please contact us for help.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for Executors to face difficulties when trying to deal with someone’s estate.

Even as professionals, we often face difficult situations where beneficiaries are not in agreement or are trying to frustrate matters.

Executors have certain duties to beneficiaries when dealing with someone’s estate. Unfortunately, there is often confusion (especially when an Executor does not have professional help) as to what they can and cannot do.

The role of an Executor is a very important one and getting it wrong can be costly.

For example, if an Executor has not acted appropriately or properly, they may be ordered to personally pay the cost of a disappointed beneficiary’s legal application.

If you are an Executor of an estate and you are unsure of the steps you need to take, what decisions you need to make or are facing problems relating to the beneficiaries, please contact us for help.

There are various ways in which someone can make a claim against a property if they feel they have contributed towards it. This can be a loan given to someone to assist with a property purchase, paying for works to be done at a property or many other scenarios.

Such claims will depend on the circumstances of each case, including whether there was an agreement or understanding that the person making the contribution would be entitled to a share of the property either straight away or in the future.

These agreements can either be ‘express’ (written down) or ‘implied’ (where the actions of someone indicates an agreement).

This type of claim typically falls under ‘Trusts of Land’ and is highly complex. If you believe you may have a claim or someone is making a claim against you, please contact us for help.

At Palmers, we are accustomed to unusual and unique cases.

We have dealt with matters relating to negligent advice from other solicitors regarding estates, disputes over blood relatives, DNA testing, investigations from the Office of the Public Guardian and more.

If you would like clear advice about any issues you have regarding someone’s estate or their assets, please contact us and we will be happy to provide you with guidance.

Our Promise to you

Our first priority at Palmers is to provide our clients with peace of mind, particularly at a time when they are dealing with emotionally difficult circumstances such as the loss of a loved one.

We therefore promise that, whatever the nature of your enquiry, we will provide you with guidance that leaves you feeling better informed and prepared, in order to take the required next steps.

Donna Smy

Supervising Partner, Private Client

Basildon
Helen Jago

Supervising Partner, Private Client

Rayleigh
Laura Carter

Graduate Legal Executive

South Woodham Ferrers
Lee McClellan

Supervising Partner, Private Client

Basildon
Tim Steele

Supervising Partner Private Client & South Woodham Ferrers Office Compliance Officer For Legal Practice, Training Partner

South Woodham Ferrers


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