The death of a relative is always a traumatic time, all the more so if the deceased has not made a Will, or if someone has not been included in a Will when normally they would have expected to have been included. Families, where once close, can be torn apart and some never reconciliate.
Generally, provided that the necessary legal requirements are met for making a valid Will, the courts are reluctant to interfere with the intentions of the person who made it, no matter how unfair it may seem. The most common challenges to a Will revolve around the person in question lacking the mental capacity to make a Will and didn’t appreciate the nature of what they were doing. In these types of cases, medical evidence is often crucial. In some rare cases, Wills are challenged on the basis of fraud.
Where a person fails to make a Will, a deceased’s estate is dealt with under the law of Intestacy. In such cases, there is a clear pecking order as to who takes priority in the distribution of an estate.
It would appear that there has been an increase in recent years in the number of people wishing to challenge a Will or to bring a claim against an Estate. There are a number of factors which could account for this, ranging from the increased value of a person’s estate, particularly given the rise in house prices, to the breaking up of the traditional family unit. Increasingly, people are having children with multiple partners, or are not getting married, creating potential conflicts between competing beneficiaries.
Where a person believes that provision should have been made for them or their children under a Will or under the Intestacy rules, they may been entitled to pursue a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act if they can demonstrate that no reasonable provision has been made for them when they could reasonably have been expected to have been provided for.
This could include, for example, the minor children of a deceased who had separated from their partner.
What is reasonable will turn on the particular facts of the case, any competing interests and the size of the estate.
Mediation is always preferable where such disputes arise given that court proceedings are without exception costly, lengthy and will only increase the stress for all parties at a time when families should be coming together.
At Baron Grey Solicitors, we are highly experienced in dealing with all such matters in a sensitive and compassionate fashion, so please get in touch today if we can be of assistance to you.