CONTESTING A WILL – CASE STUDY
WILL CONTEST CLAIM – WHAT FOLLOWS IS OUR SYNOPSIS OF A REAL CLAIM
1. In this instance we were approached by a potential client whose existing Solicitors had refused to carry out any further work for him. They had been instructed under a no win no fee agreement. They claimed that he hadn’t told them the truth about his financial circumstances and previous history, matters which he disputed.
2. His claim had been made by the previous Solicitors under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1975/63). They had issued court proceedings for him and served them on near relatives who had all responded. In the responses a concession had been made that he should be paid £50,000 from the £600,000 plus estate. His previous Solicitors had wanted him to accept this inclusive of their costs which they claimed amounted to about 50% of the £50,000.
3. We agreed to take the case on under a no win no fee arrangement as well. We took over the case and arranged to meet the Claimant (and his partner) at which we took detailed instructions from him about his claim. It transpired the matters over which he had been in dispute with his previous Solicitors (concerning the accuracy of certain facts) were not really relevant to his claim for financial provision under section 2 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, broadly because the deceased had made a subsequent Will under which the Claimant had received a substantial share of the estate in any event.
4. What was relevant was the Will which followed that under which the Claimant (and his brother) had been completely disinherited, but bequeathed, as mentioned, the sum of £50,000. The specific bequest of £50,000 was one of a number the deceased had made amounting to over £120,000. There was a separate gift of the most valuable part of his estate; namely his property in London.
5. This new Will was “homemade”. The cash gifts within it (including the £50,000 to our client, the Claimant) were a nonsense, since, as we subsequently discovered, the deceased had never more than about £20,000 in savings. That and the fact that this was a “homemade” Will brought into question the deceased’s knowledge and approval of the terms of the Will. It also brought into question his legal Testamentary Capacity at the time the Will was made. For instance, one of the tests of capacity is the testator’s (the deceased here) understanding of the extent of his property (see for example – https://www.thegazette.co.uk/all-notices/content/100844). He must also understand the terms of his Will (the knowledge and approval point mentioned). The fact that he had purported by his new Will to make cash gifts which were impossible for him to have made, strongly suggested the lacked legal testamentary capacity and that he hadn’t known and approved of the contents of his Will.
6. The Defendants to this claim agreed to a Mediation (which is a formal negotiation hosted by a trained facilitator called a “Mediator”, see for example – https://corporate.findlaw.com/litigation-disputes/what-is-mediation-and-how-does-it-work.html) where the issue over the legal validity of the deceased’s homemade Will was raised for the first time. The Defendants had no answer to our client’s justifiable doubts over its legal validity. They were forced to concede a one third share of his estate amounting to about £200,000! The claim was successfully compromised on this basis.
If you consider that any of these facts and matters are likely to apply to you, or you would like to ask us for more information about our no win no fee arrangement, or you simply want us to assess your claim, then please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential no strings chat.