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‘Contesting a Will doesn’t need to be stressful’

If you are thinking about contesting a Will or have any other inheritance or trust dispute you’ll probably have lots of questions you want to ask us. We’ve put together the answers to some of the most common questions we’re asked by clients. If you can’t find the answer you want here, please get in touch with us on 0800 923 2080.

Q. Are there any time limits that will affect my claim?
A. If you make a claim, you’ll probably have to adhere to a strict time limit. It depends on what type of action you’re hoping to bring, but you may only have a matter of months to file your claim with the court. So if you’re thinking about contesting a Will or bringing any other inheritance dispute, we recommend getting in touch with us as soon as possible to protect your position.

Q. Can I find out if there was a Will, and how can I get a copy?
A. If you’d like to find out whether a relative of yours has left a Will, you’ll need to get in touch with your local Probate Registry. Provided you have details of your relative’s name, last known address and when they died, you’ll then be able to search for their Will – and find out whether one has been entered. If there isn’t a Will, the Probate Registry can let you know if someone is trying to deal with your relative’s estate within the next six months. Find out more about the Probate Registry.

Q. What should I do if I think a relative has left a Will, but someone is withholding it from me?
A. If you’re worried that someone is keeping information about a Will from you, or not letting you see it, we can take action for you. If you’ve already searched for the Will at the Probate Registry then we can apply to the court to make the person concerned produce a copy – or come to court to provide further information.

Q. What is a Grant of Representation?
A. This is a document that the court issues enabling someone to deal with the assets and belongings of the person who has died. There can be one or more people named in the grant who can take charge of the assets. It gives them the right to collect the deceased’s money from banks and building societies, and to sell property and pay off debts.

There are three types of Grants of Representation:

  • Probate: this is granted to the executors named in the Will
  • Letters of Administration (with Will): this is granted when someone left a valid Will and then had to amend it, for instance if the named executor has died
  • Letters of Administration: this is granted when someone did not leave a Will.

Q. How do I find out whether there’s been a Grant of Representation?
A. Get in touch with the Probate Registry. They will give you a copy of the Grant for a small fee. If you want to bring a financial provision claim you normally need to make a claim within six months of when the grant was taken out.

Q. Can I find out how valuable the estate is?
A. Yes. The Grant of Representation will contain an estimate of the value of the estate. This is called the ‘probate value.’ It shows you how much the estate is probably worth once all the assets are sold.

Q. What’s the difference between an executor, an administrator and a personal representative?
A. An executor is a person appointed in a Will to look after the estate. An administrator is a person who is given the task of managing the estate when there isn’t a Will, or the Will doesn’t name an executor. A personal representative is the ‘catch all’ term to describe executors and administrators.

Q. I’m worried about a loved one’s Will. Can I stop someone taking out a grant to deal with the estate?
A. Yes. If you’re concerned about the contents of a Will you can enter what’s called a ‘caveat’ at the Probate Registry. This will stop the Grant of Representation being taken out unless you’re consulted first. It gives you time to look into your concerns about the Will before the estate is dealt with.

Q. I don’t feel I’ve received a fair share of the estate. What can I do?
A. Even if there aren’t any issues relating to the Will, you still might be able to make a claim for financial provision from the estate.

If you contributed towards a property owned by the deceased, you might be entitled to a share of that too. If so you could make a claim for rights to land or property.

Q. What happens if someone’s died without a Will?
A. If your loved one didn’t leave a Will then they are said to have died ‘intestate.’ In this case, their assets will be divided in accordance with the rules of intestacy. Unfortunately these rules don’t take into account any individual relationships that your loved one had. So you might be disappointed with what is left to you. If so, you might be able to bring a claim for financial provision.

Q. Will I have to go to court if I’m contesting a Will?
A. Generally you won’t have to go to court. We focus on negotiation and mediation to hopefully settle matters long before they have to go to trial. Negotiation is a quicker and more cost effective way to deal with disputes.

Q. I’ve been served with a claim about a Will. What should I do now?
A. The most important thing is not to ignore it. It’s best to seek legal advice. We can advise you on what to do next.

Q. What happens if a gift I was left in a Will was sold before my loved one died?
A. You probably won’t be able to recover the gift you were promised. However, there are some exceptions to that. For example, you may have been promised a sum of money, but that money has been reinvested. Or you may have been promised shares in a company, but that company has since been taken over by another one. In complex situations like these, you might still be able to inherit the gift.

Q. What is a trust?
A. A trust is when a person, called a trustee, holds the paper title to assets but manages and invests them on behalf of someone else, who is known as the beneficiary.

Q. Does a trust need to be in writing to be valid?
A. No. People can set up a trust with a simple informal arrangement.

Q. How much will it cost to resolve an inheritance or trust dispute?
A. It’s hard to say how much any case Will cost, as each one is different. However, there are a number of ways you can get help at an affordable price:

  • You may already have legal expenses insurance with your home insurance policy. If so, we can liaise directly with your insurer
  • Sometimes we can take on a dispute like this under a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement. This really depends on the circumstances of your case.

If none of these options is right for you, then you have the option to pay for the case yourself. Whatever the situation, we’ll make sure to keep you fully informed every step of the way. We try and settle just about every case before it comes to trial, which keeps costs to a minimum and ensures you have as much control over any agreement reached as possible.

Q. How long might a dispute last?
A. Some can last just a few weeks, but others may take years to resolve. Whatever your circumstances, we take an active approach and look for practical solutions rather than legal jargon to help settle a case as quickly as possible. We’ll treat every case as sensitively and efficiently as possible, always focusing on the best interests of our clients. By aiming to settle your case well before trial, we’ll hopefully save you time, stress and money.

Our credentials

Amanda Noyce (Band 4) is head of the inheritance and trusts disputes group at Royds Withy King in Bath. An interviewee describes her as “very approachable and understanding,” adding: “I couldn’t recommend her highly enough. She is very thorough with her investigations and covers all angles.” Chambers 2017 UK-wide

“Royds Withy King ‘achieves good results for its clients time and time again’. Amanda Noyce ‘is unflappable’ in Court of Protection applications involving mental capacity issues, as well as Inheritance Act, tax and professional negligence matters.” Legal 500 2016 South West

Contact us if your question isn’t covered here, or you’d like to know more

Ms Noyce always gave me the encouragement to carry on to the end [of the case] which thanks to her came a lot quicker than I had expected. I am confident that Ms Noyce should take full credit for the outcome. The whole team at Royds Withy King headed up by Ms Noyce were in my view very professional, charming and considerate and I would have no doubts to recommend their services to anyone.

Mr C Hooper, Chippenham

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