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Disputing an Inheritance

Inheritance Dispute Solicitors

Dealing with someone’s Will is a huge responsibility for which many of us do not feel prepared. If we are grieving it can add more pressure to an already stressful situation.

While most Wills are relatively straightforward, many have hidden complexities and issues that only arise once the administration process begins. Inheritance disputes are all too common and need sensitive handling if they’re to be resolved satisfactorily.

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Everyone is treated fairly

Freeman Jones Solicitors provide comprehensive probate administration services in Chester. We help ensure all inheritance legal requirements are taken care of and any potential issues and disputes are carefully handled.

We work to ensure that the executors, creditors, and beneficiaries of a Will are treated fairly and the Estate is distributed in line with the wishes of the deceased.


Challenge an inheritance

Inheritance disputes happen more frequently than is realised, with disputes occurring for a wide range of different reasons. If a family member or loved one has passed away and your gift in their Will is not what you anticipated, our disputed Will solicitors may be able to challenge the Will for you.

Likewise, if you believe the Will is invalid or you or someone else has been unfairly excluded, then we may be able to help by making a claim for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and dependents) Act 1975.

Persons entitled to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and dependents) Act 1975 (IPFDA).

The following people are entitled to make an IPFDA claim:

  • A 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 who lived with the deceased for a minimum period of two years prior to their death.
  • A child of the deceased (even if over the age of 18).
  • Anyone (not being a child of the deceased) who was treated as a child of the family, including adopted children, fostered children, stepchildren etc.
  • Any person not mentioned above who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained either wholly or partly, by the deceased.

Inheritance Dispute FAQ's

  • Probate is the process of obtaining the legal right to manage the estate of a deceased person. The executor is required to apply for a Grant of Probate, the legal document that gives them the authority to deal with the deceased’s finances, possessions, and assets. The process ends once the estate has been identified in its entirety, all of the relevant taxes and debts have been paid, and the inheritance has been distributed to the beneficiaries.

    Probate is sometimes mixed up with the whole variety of tasks that need to be completed following a death, but probate itself only refers to the process of obtaining the documentation that enables you to carry out the administration of the estate.

  • There is a range of options available when it comes to administering the estate of a deceased person. Using specialist probate and estate administration solicitor is one of those options, and it has a range of advantages.

    Firstly, it frees the Executors from having the stress and hassle of taking care of what can be a complicated process themselves. It tackles any potential issues, ensures that all of the legal requirements are met, and provides a comprehensive set of services. Everything is taken care of.

    While there are no legal requirements for Executors to use probate administration there are some instances where it is not only desirable but also strongly advised.

    These are:

    • The estate’s value is over the Inheritance Tax threshold and the estate is still earning income. This may then create complicated tax requirements that need to be met. The current threshold for Inheritance Tax is £325,000 (2022/23)
    • The deceased died without a valid will and the estate is complicated
    • There are doubts about the validity of the will.
    • Dependents were deliberately left out of the will, and they may wish to make a claim on the estate.
    • There are complex arrangements such as assets held in trust that are part of the estate.
    • The estate is insolvent.
    • Foreign property or assets are included in the estate.
    • The deceased lived outside of the UK for tax purposes.
  • Executors are required to administer the estate correctly and are personally liable if they make any mistakes. In practice, this means that they may be sued if they make any serious errors. This might include not looking after assets properly, making poor investment decisions, misinterpreting the Will, overpaying a beneficiary and leaving others out of pocket, or distributing money to the beneficiaries before creditors have been paid in full.

    Executors may find themselves put under pressure by beneficiaries to distribute assets early. This can lead to serious problems and complications further down the line if there are any outstanding debts. Often, there may be debts that the executor isn’t aware of initially. Sometimes a claim may be made by someone disputing the Will. These situations can lead to difficulties further down the line and in some cases may even lead to prosecution against the Executor.

    For these reasons, it’s generally safer for an executor to instruct a specialist probate and estate administration service to obtain probate and administer the estate. This will ensure that you are protected against being sued personally for negligence.

  • Losing someone you love is one of the most challenging events in anyone’s life. If you subsequently come to believe that their estate is being mismanaged it can be highly distressing and can make the grieving process harder.

    The Executor is the person named in the Will who is liable for the administration of that Will according to the wishes of the deceased. They have a range of responsibilities including collecting the deceased’s assets, paying outstanding debts, preparing accounts detailing the assets and liabilities of the estate, paying Inheritance Tax, and distributing remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

    If you believe that the executor is failing in their duty to properly carry out these tasks, then you may be able to make a claim against them. You can also apply to the court to have them replaced. Specialist probate and estate administration solicitors may then be asked to take over the administration of the estate in these particular circumstances.

  • Disputes over Wills, Trusts and Estates usually occur at an emotional time and are distressing.

    If a Will, trust or estate dispute concerns your family and arguments arise concerning someone not being entitled to what they had expected, then matters can quickly become acrimonious with tensions running high.

Inheritance Dispute Specialists

Our Inheritance Dispute Solicitors can help with all of the following Will, Trust and Inheritance disputes that may arise:

  • Inheritance Act claims for reasonable provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and dependents) Act 1975 (IPFDA claims);
  • Interpretation of Wills, Trusts and administration of Estates.
  • Disputed Wills.
  • Fraudulent Wills or when the requisite formalities have not been adhered to and followed.
  • Rectification of Wills.
  • Invalid wills (challenging wills due to lack of capacity and undue influence claims).
  • Domicile disputes.
  • Disputes over assets.
  • Estate administration disputes.
  • Caveats, warnings & appearances.
  • Contested Court of Protection proceedings.
  • Burial disputes.
  • Disputes over beneficiaries’
  • Disputes over Powers of Attorney.
  • Breach of Trust claims.
  • Wills, Trusts and Estates Professional negligence claims against solicitors and Will writers concerning negligently drafted wills.
  • Removing executors, administrators or trustees.
  • Misappropriation of Trust or Estate property.
  • Assets freezing injunctions.
  • Trust claims.

We can provide help to disappointed beneficiaries, executors, administrators, personal representatives, trustees or any other party involved.

If you are involved in a dispute relating to a Will, trust or estate, seeking early expert legal advice can potentially avoid costly disputes including inheritance dispute court proceedings.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) can be used to resolve disputes surrounding wills. It refers to a number of methods that are used to resolve disputes without the need for litigation. Parties will choose the most appropriate method of ADR for their particular dispute and may use different methods before an agreement is reached.

The most commonly used methods are:

  • Mediation brings the parties to the dispute together with an independent and impartial mediator. They will facilitate discussion between the parties and assist them in reaching a settlement. This is more flexible than court proceedings and the resolutions that can be reached are wider than those that a court can enforce. For instance, mediation can allow the parties to discuss individual assets of a deceased’s estate. These may not have particular monetary value but have significant sentimental value to the parties.

    Mediation is entirely confidential and also non-binding. This means that if the parties are unable to reach an agreement they may still take the matter to court. Mediation isn’t always suitable, particularly if a matter of law is in dispute. There are no guarantees that a settlement will be reached.

  • Early Neutral Evaluation involves an impartial evaluator assessing the merits of a case and then expressing their view. This can be useful in helping parties identify weaknesses in their case and any gaps in their evidence. It can be particularly useful when parties have reached an impasse or if there is a significant disparity between their respective positions.

    If an evaluator reaches a strong conclusion, this can prompt the parties to enter into more serious settlement discussions. It’s important to remember, however, that an evaluator’s view is not a judgment and isn’t binding. Early Neutral Evaluation may not itself resolve a dispute.

  • Arbitration is the most formal form of alternative dispute resolution. Each party presents their argument and evidence to the arbitrator. They will then reach a decision on the outcome of the dispute. This process will be governed by an arbitration agreement that the parties can tailor to their dispute. The parties can choose their arbitrator and the tribunal is private.

    The decision that’s reached can be binding or non-binding, with the former bringing the dispute to a conclusion. If the parties choose arbitration they will not then be able to bring their dispute to court.

Professional probate and estate administration services

At Freeman Jones Solicitors, we take the stress out of administering the estate of a deceased loved one. Our specialist probate and estate administration services can ensure that all of the legal requirements are met and beneficiaries receive their assets in as timely a manner as possible.

We can also help resolve disputes and challenge instances where an Executor is failing to carry out their legal responsibilities adequately.

Why not call our experienced team today for confidential probate advice?

Call 01244 506 444 or book your Free 30 Minute Consultation online.

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