If you are the personal representative (executor or administrator) appointed to represent someone’s estate, or a benefactor of a Will, you may face the difficult situation of dealing with a challenge to the estate. This can come in the form of contesting the validity of the Will itself (such as when the person making the Will was not of sound mind), disputing the contents of the Will (typically when they believe the estate was not allocated in a fair manner), or challenging the distribution of assets if there was no Will. This may seem like a daunting experience but employing the aid of a litigation solicitor can help you through each step of the process.
What should you do if you are notified of a challenge?
The first thing we advise anyone to do in this situation is seek legal advice. The actions you take will depend on how the Will was challenged.
The first instance is when they enter a caveat to stop the probate application. This will stop the personal representative from being able to manage the estate unless dealt with.
Secondly, they can enact an inheritance act claim, even if the grant of probate/ letters of administration have been granted. Both challenges can result in lengthy court proceedings and disruption to asset distribution unless resolved quickly.
How can a litigation solicitor help?
An experienced litigation solicitor can provide a wealth of advice on the processes and their likely outcomes. They can deal with challengers on your behalf, provide advice on the strength of claims, and explain the legal rights of both parties. Most importantly, they can facilitate mediations between you and the challenger with the intention of settling the issue outside of court, avoiding unnecessary legal costs and delays in distributing assets. They can also assist the personal representative in their duties, as it can be difficult to remain neutral when dealing with claims, particularly if you are also a beneficiary of the estate.
If you require assistance defending a Will dispute, please contact Julia & Rana Solicitors on 0207 112 8818 for a free initial consultation.