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Will Dispute Solicitors


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Navigating the Complexities of Will Disputes with Hibberts Solicitors

At Hibberts, we understand that disputes over a will can be emotionally taxing and legally complex. With our deep-rooted history dating back to 1799 and a strong presence in Cheshire and North Shropshire, we bring a wealth of experience and a personal touch to each case.

Contesting a will often involves sensitive family dynamics and intricate legal principles. Whether it’s challenging the validity of a will based on testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, or addressing issues related to executors and beneficiaries, our dedicated team of solicitors is here to guide you through the process with professionalism and empathy.

Our mission is to offer personal, professional, and practical legal services. We tailor our approach to each client’s circumstances, ensuring that your interests are robustly represented.

From understanding the intricacies of estate litigation to navigating financial considerations and property matters, Hibberts are committed to providing the highest level of client care and effective dispute resolution.

Our work in resolving will disputes is integral to our wider role as contentious probate solicitors. We bring a wealth of experience and a tailored approach to each aspect of a case, ensuring that our clients receive the best possible support.

Challenging a Will

Testamentary Capacity and Undue Influence

When contesting a will, two factors often come into play: testamentary capacity and undue influence. At Hibberts Solicitors, we explore whether the person making the will had the mental capacity to understand their decisions and the consequences. Additionally, we investigate if the testator was subject to undue influence or coercion. Our expertise ensures that your case is thoroughly examined, respecting the sensitivities involved while pursuing your interests.

Fraud and Forgery

Challenges to a will based on fraud or forgery require meticulous investigation and legal acumen. Our team delves into the authenticity of the will, examining evidence of potential forgery or fraudulent practice. We guide our clients through the complexities of these allegations, ensuring that their interests are protected in cases where the integrity of the will is questionable.

Roles in Will Disputes: Executors, Beneficiaries, and Cohabitants

In will disputes, the roles of executors, beneficiaries, and cohabitants are pivotal. Our solicitors advise executors on their duties and liabilities, assist beneficiaries in understanding their rights, and represent cohabitants in their claims. We navigate the intricacies of these roles, ensuring that our client’s position is clearly and robustly advanced.

Estate Litigation: Navigating the Legal Process

Estate litigation can be a daunting process. Our team at Hibberts Solicitors provides comprehensive guidance on each step, from initial advice to, if necessary, representation at court. We focus on dispute resolution, aiming to resolve conflicts early and efficiently wherever possible, while being prepared to robustly represent our clients in court, ensuring the best possible outcome.

Solicitors’ Expertise: Why Legal Representation Matters

In will disputes, the expertise of a skilled solicitor is invaluable. At Hibberts Solicitors, we bring a depth of experience and a commitment to personal service, ensuring that your case is handled with professionalism and care. Our team’s expertise in will disputes provides clients with the comfort and assurance that their case is in capable hands.

For those seeking clarity on the probate process and its implications, our detailed guide offers insights into what probate entails and the necessary steps for estate administration. Learn more about this essential aspect of estate management by visiting our What is Probate guide.

For more information regarding Will Disputes
Probate Dispute Expert
Michael Ward
Partner & Head of Dispute Resolution
01270 624225
Make an Enquiry

Will Disputes FAQs

What constitutes lack of testamentary capacity in will disputes?

Lack of testamentary capacity means the person who made their will did not understand what they were doing, or the implications at the time they made it. Usually this is due to illness, cognitive impairment, or other conditions substantially affecting their understanding or decision-making ability at the time of making the will.

How do I prove undue influence or fraud in contesting a will?

Proving undue influence or fraud involves showing that the will was made under such pressure as to overpower the will maker’s actual wishes. Whilst the civil standard of proof applies (ie the balance of probabilities) the courts require compelling evidence of who and what influenced the testator’s decisions.

Where do I stand as a beneficiary or executor in a will dispute?

As a beneficiary, you have the right to a fair distribution of the estate as outlined in the will. Executors have the duty to administer the estate impartially. Both have the right to legal representation in disputes.

How does the litigation process work in will disputes?

The litigation process involves legal proceedings to resolve the dispute, but in almost all cases parties will try and resolve their claim without recourse to legal proceedings – an approach strongly favoured by the courts. Mediation or negotiations are often used in the process, but if the parties go down the route of legal proceedings, they will issue a court claim form to which the defendant files a defence. Both parties will obtain witness evidence and disclose to each other all relevant documents they have. Ultimately the court will decide the case on the evidence before it and legal argument.

What financial factors impact the outcome of will disputes?

Financial factors include the size and nature of the estate, cash, investment and property assets, tax liabilities, tax reliefs, debts due and payable by the estate and what assets do and don’t form part of the estate. For example, the proceeds of insurance policies.

Why should I instruct a solicitor for a will dispute?

Instructing a suitable solicitor ensures professional guidance and representation. Solicitors can navigate complex legal processes, offer strategic advice, and represent your interests effectively in negotiations or court.

Can a will be contested if it seems unfair or excludes a family member?

It may be possible to contest a will because it appears unfair or excludes someone who expected to inherit. Possible legal grounds include lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, or failure to adequately provide for various classes of dependants. Hibberts can advise any prospective claimant.

What is the time limit for contesting a will in the UK?

Generally, the time limit is six months from the grant of probate for claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Other types of claims have a considerably longer time limit, but if you have serious doubts, it is very sensible to seek advice early.

How is a will dispute resolved if there is confusion about the testator's intentions?

If the testator’s intentions are not clear, the court may interpret the will’s provisions based on available evidence and legal precedent.

Can a will dispute affect the distribution of assets to a ‘neutral’ beneficiary?

Yes, sadly a will dispute can, and generally will, delay the distribution of estate assets even where an affected beneficiary is a neutral bystander in the dispute. You should seek advice in this situation, as often all major beneficiaries are joined to the claim even if their position is strictly neutral, because the outcome of such a dispute may impact upon their inheritance.

Glossary of terms: Will Disputes

  • Testamentary Capacity: The ability of a person to make a valid will, including understanding the nature and value of their assets and the implications of their decisions.
  • Undue Influence: When a person is coerced or manipulated into making a will that doesn't reflect their true intentions.
  • Executor: A person appointed in a will to administer the deceased's estate.
  • Beneficiary: A person or entity entitled to receive a portion of the deceased's estate under a will or an intestacy.
  • Probate: The legal process through which a will is validated and the estate is distributed.
  • Intestate: The state of dying without a legal will.
  • Cohabitant: An individual who lived with the deceased but wasn't necessarily married or a civil partner with them. 
  • Estate Litigation: Legal proceedings related to the distribution or handling of a deceased person's estate.
  • Proprietary Estoppel: A legal principle where the Court steps in to enforce a verbal promise one person made to another about gaining rights in property where the person promised then acted to their own detriment promise because of that promise. 
  • Power of Attorney: A legal document authorizing someone to act on another's behalf, particularly in financial or property decisions.

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