If a will dispute cannot be resolved it may be because the Testator's intentions are unclear

Interpreting the Testator’s Intentions: Tish v Olley

Challenging a will can be complicated when it is unclear what the testator’s intentions were by the wording of clauses in their will. This is a particularly difficult issue for wills compared with other legal documents for the obvious reason that the person whose intentions are under question has passed away by the time of the will dispute. The recent case of Tish and Others v Olley & Ors [2018] […]

inheritance act claims for reasonable financial provision

Inheritance Act Claims: What is Reasonable Financial Provision?

Understanding Inheritance Act claims Challenging a will through using the mechanism of Inheritance Act claims allows claimants to apply to court for reasonable financial provision from a deceased person’s estate, without questioning the validity of the testator’s will. Section 1 of the Act outlines the list of potential Inheritance Act claimants, i.e dependants. People who can potentially claim under the act are: Spouses and civil partners; Former spouses or civil […]

some advice to help you manage costs in a will dispute

3 Ways to Keep Costs Low in a Will Dispute

Challenging a will is potentially expensive, especially through the court system. If the judge rules in your favour, then in addition to any money from the estate, the judge might order the defendant to pay your legal costs. However, if the judge rules against you, as well as having to pay your own costs, you might be ordered to pay the costs of the other side. Will disputes can be […]

testamentary capacity is one way to challenge a will - make sure you consider these 5 points

5 Things to be Aware of when Claiming Lack of Testamentary Capacity

One of the ways to challenge a will is to make a case that the Testator, the person who made the will, did not have testamentary capacity. This is not always straightforward. In this blog, we look at 5 things to be aware of if you are considering a will dispute claim on this basis. Testamentary capacity or undue influence? In order to be valid, a will must be made […]

Undue influence is hard to prove - read out blog

5 Things to Know About Undue Influence

What is Undue Influence?  Undue influence is a ground upon which to challenge a will, calling into question the validity of the will itself. Claims for undue influence are made when someone suspects that the testator (the person who made the will) was under the influence of another person at the time the will was made. If a court finds that the will was made, either under coercion, or in […]

take independent legal advice to avoid a challenge to your will later on

Legal advice and Undue Influence

One ground for a will dispute is undue influence: when someone has been pressured or coerced into signing a will or other contract that affects their estate. The case of Brindley v Brindley [2018] EWHC 157 (Ch), provides an example of an undue influence claim which failed because the testator, the mother of the claimant, had sought independent legal advice before making the transfer. The Facts of Brindley v Brindley […]

Our guide to the role of the courts in a will dispute

The Role of the Courts in a Will Dispute

You may be concerned about a will and be worried that it doesn’t reflect the real intentions of the person who made it, or feel that you should have received a greater share of the estate. Challenging a will can be a daunting process, especially if you have no experience of the legal system and how the courts work. In this blog, we explain the role of the courts in […]

Challenging a will on grounds of mental capacity will inevitably mean considering the golden rule

3 Key Points about the Golden Rule

If you’re worried about the contents of a will and believe the person who made it was showing signs of dementia or mental vulnerability, it is well worth checking whether the solicitor who made the will followed the Golden Rule. What is the Golden Rule? The Golden Rule is an obligation for the solicitor preparing a will to ensure that the testator has sufficient mental capacity when the will is […]

5 benefits of mediation in a will dispute

Five Reasons to Consider Mediation in a Will Dispute

What is Mediation? Disputing a will can be expensive, time consuming and emotionally draining if pursued through the courts. Mediation is an alternative approach to consider when deciding how to contest a will. This involves negotiating a settlement with the other party, outside of court. A will dispute is different to other types of legal claim because mediation is optional, not required. Five reasons to consider the option of taking […]

rules of intestacy in will disputes

When a Successful Will Dispute Means the Rules of Intestacy Matter

When challenging a will, claimants should consider what outcome would result in the event that the will is declared invalid. If the courts declare the only will of a deceased person invalid, the estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. It is important when contesting a will, to be mindful of how these rules would distribute the property if the claim is successful, and specifically, whether they […]

contesting wills

Contesting Wills: Five Things to Consider

Contesting wills is never something to be undertaken lightly. Consider these 5 issues before you decide what to do – and consider taking professional legal advice about your situation. Will you challenge the validity of the will, or just ask for reasonable financial provision?  Challenging the validity of a will can be done on the following grounds: When the will does not meet the requirements set out in the Wills […]

We look at whether an inheritance act claim survives the death of a claimant

Does An Inheritance Act Claim Die with the Claimant?

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows individuals challenging a will to apply to the courts for inheritance beyond that stated in the will. Although English law recognises the principle that people should be free to leave their property as they wish, the Inheritance Act recognises that family and dependants should be left with reasonable financial provision after the testator dies. A claim under the Inheritance Act […]

survivorship clauses can cause confusion and unintended consequences if not properly drafted

When survivorship clauses can cause confusion!

Sometimes, the problems that arise from a will aren’t about whether the person who made the will had the capacity to do so, or whether they were unduly influenced by someone else. Sometimes, the problems come from the way the will was drafted – and even properly drafted wills can cause problems in some circumstances. This happened in the case of Jump & Jones v Lister [2016] EWHC 2160 where the survivorship […]

preaction disclosure of documents is a vital part of a will dispute

The importance of pre-action disclosure when you challenge a will

If you have been disappointed with the contents of a will – perhaps you have been inexplicably left out of the will of a loved one or close relative, or you have been left less than you understood you would receive – it is important to make an application for pre-action disclosure as early as possible. Why are documents important in a will dispute? One of the key difficulties in […]

A no win no fee arrangement can be a great way to handle legal costs in a will claim

The benefits of a no win no fee agreement in a will dispute

When you are thinking about any kind of legal action, a key concern will be the legal costs involved. It is no different when you are planning to challenge a will. It is a complex area of law, and you will need specialist legal advice and support to help you navigate the process, and succeed in your will claim. A no win no fee arrangement offers a sensible approach to […]

Challenging wills using Fraudulent calumny

A few months back, we looked at the issue of ‘fraudulent calumny’ – which is a kind of undue influence – and how it can be used to challenge a will. The recent case of Christodoulides v Marcou [2017] EWHC 2632 (Ch) is another opportunity to look at what fraudulent calumny involves. The facts in Christodoulides v Marcou This case involved a dispute between 2 sisters, Niki and Andre in relation […]

our blog looks at the rights of the cohabitee when their partner dies and how the Inheritance Act may help

Left out of your partner’s will? What can a cohabitee do?

There’s a commonly held belief that if you live with someone without being married or in a civil partnership, you have the same rights as if you were married. This belief in the existence of a ‘common law marriage’ is wrong. The reality is that a cohabitee has no equivalent status to a spouse of civil partner. This means that, if you are a cohabitee and your partner dies, your […]

Court or Mediation – what’s the best way to resolve a will dispute?

Court or Mediation – what’s the best way to resolve a will dispute?

One of the questions you are bound to ask yourself when you are thinking about challenging a will is “How will this all end?” Many people have very little involvement with legal disputes. Even their experience of working with a solicitor may be limited to buying a house. Many people have a mental picture of a court room drama playing out when they think of a will dispute. The reality […]

Our will dispute expert looks at a holographic will and what it means

What’s a holographic will?

A holographic will is one which is entirely handwritten by the Testator and signed by him (or her). In many ways, whether a will is handwritten or not makes no difference in England and Wales, because it must still be properly signed and witnessed in order to be valid. However, holographic wills can give rise to issues of validity and can cause problems with interpretation. Do special rules apply to […]

signature will formalities

Will formalities – will a more relaxed approach mean more disputes?

A few weeks ago, the BBC reported that a court in Australia had agreed that an unsent text message could be treated as a will . Could this become a reality in the UK? And what could the impact be on will disputes? As we wait for the outcome of the Law Commission’s consultation on will reform (which ended on 10th November), we look at whether a relaxation of will formalities […]