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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 process, but 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If the testator’s intentions are not clear, the court may interpret the will’s provisions based on available evidence and legal precedent.
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 n this situation, as often all major beneficiaries are joined not the claim even if their position is strictly neutral, because the outcome of such a dispute may impact upon their inheritance.