What is Probate?
Probate is the name given to the process of administering the estate of someone who has died. This can usually include gathering details of the deceased’s financial position, arranging to clear any debts, assessing the value of their estate and distributing their assets in accordance to the information provided in their will, or in line with the rules of intestacy, if they passed away without leaving a will.
However, probate can be a difficult terrain to navigate and if this becomes contentious, it can be made all the more stressful, at what is often an emotional and difficult time for everyone involved.
Why Would Probate be Contentious?
Contentious Probate can arise if disagreements occur or if disputes are raised over a will. These can arise for many reasons but usually include a relative or beneficiary of the will raising an objection either with the person selected to act as administrator or executor or objecting on how the will was written or to whom the estate is being distributed. There can of course be other grounds for contesting probate any of which should fall under the five categories below, if to be taken forward for consideration:
- • Undue influence/coercion
- • Lack of knowledge and approval
- • Wills Act 1837
- • Forgery and Fraud
- • Lack of Testamentary Capacity
If you wish to contest a will it must be noted that there are strict time scales to adhere to. This is usually 6 months from the date of probate being granted. Therefore, it is imperative for any concerns you have to be raised as soon as possible. However, if you are contesting a will on the grounds of forgery or fraud, there are no timescales, and a concern can be raised at any future point.
A claim of a fraud will usually have to fall into one of the following categories to be investigated further.
- • The original will may have been destroyed.
- • The signature has been fraudulently added to the will.
- • The will wasn’t signed in the presence of the witnesses.
- • The deceased was coerced into signing or unknowingly signed the will.
If you do register an objection, you can place a caveat on the estate to prevent the probate being issued. The reasons for this must then be stated within eight days, or the caveat can be removed. Having the caveat in place can allow time for a solicitor to investigate your claim.
Why Use a Contentious Probate Solicitor
Whether you are an administrator, executor, beneficiary or a family member, if you are struggling to deal with any issues surrounding the administration of an estate and require contentious probate advice then contact our professional team here at Hook and Partners. By speaking to one of our contentious probate solicitors in Essex we will be able to guide you through the complex issues and support you through the whole process in a professional and compassionate manner.
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