Meeting a contested probate lawyer - what to expect
- AuthorRachel Leech
Making an appointment with a contested probate lawyer is probably the last thing you want to do when you have just lost a loved one. However, there are a variety of circumstances which mean people come to us seeking advice.
It can often be a daunting experience as is not something people or their family and friends have usually done before. We, therefore, hope this guide will alleviate any anxiety you may have, and help you get the most from the experience.
Reasons for a meeting with a contested probate lawyer
- Here are a few examples of disputes that we can deal with:
- Are you worried that a loved one was influenced by someone else when they wrote their will? Does this undue influence make the will invalid?
- Do you think a loved one lacked mental capacity at the time of writing their will? Does this mean their will is not valid?
- Do you have a claim for financial provision from an estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975?
- Do you believe that a loved one’s estate has been depleted by financial abuse during the deceased’s lifetime?
- Is there a dispute between executors or between executors and beneficiaries?
- Has a will been lost or does it contain errors?
Preparation for the meeting
Before the meeting it is best to collate as much information as you can to make the meeting as beneficial as possible. To do this, it is helpful to understand what will be discussed during the meeting.
Firstly, if you have a copy of any wills, please send these to us in advance of the meeting.
During the meeting we will firstly ask you to explain why you are seeking legal advice. We will then ask for details such as the deceased’s full name, date of death, details of their family/close relationships, the size of the estate and details of any wills the deceased made. Please do not worry if you do not know all these details, we can work this out over time.
We will then discuss various claims that can be made against an estate. The main claims are either against the validity of the will to overturn the same or consider a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
To evaluate the strength of a claim against the validity of the will, we will ask you questions about:
- The Deceased’s physical and mental health, including their capacity
- the circumstances in which the will was created
- Who prepared the will
- Who witnessed the will
- Was anyone involved in the preparation of the will
- Whether anyone could have influenced the deceased, and if so, why you think so
If it appears a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 may be a possibility, we will ask you about:
- Your finances - such as income, outgoings, assets and debts
- Details about any other beneficiaries’ finances
- The size of the deceased estate
- Any physical or disability that you, or any other beneficiary, may have
As we discuss a lot during our meeting, we will send you a typed note of what we discussed along with an information sheet to summary the various claims against an estate.
After the meeting
During the meeting we will agree on the next steps that we recommend. Usually, we need to obtain more information or evidence.
The common next steps include:
- entering a caveat and standing search,
- making a Larke v Nugus request,
- obtaining the deceased’s medical records or
- obtaining more details about your finances.
We will discuss with you the likely costs involved, and the various funding options available. Before the meeting it is best to check whether you have any legal expense insurance. This is often an add on to home insurance or credit cards.
At Birkett Long, we can provide you with advice when needed. I am a solicitor in our Court of Protection and Inheritance Disputes team and can be contacted on 01206 217623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.