Probate – Will Disputes

Will disputes are at record level. We regularly act for executors, trustees and disappointed family members in a variety of contested probate matters.

Contested probate is a very complex area, with the number of legal challenges strictly limited, we find the majority of cases fall into the following areas:

Undue influence

These types of cases arise where the testator is often pressurised to make or alter their will against their wishes or where they are vulnerable to suggestions at the time they make the will.

Fraudulent Wills occurred when signatures are altered or forged or wills even destroyed.

Invalid Wills

All Wills must comply with the Wills Act. This provides that the will must be in writing signed (preferably dated) and witnessed by two independent witnesses. (neither of whom can be a beneficiary) at the same time the person making the will. If any of these rules are not complied with then the will is invalid.

Lack of Capacity to make a Will.

The person making the will must have understood the nature of actually making the will, the extent of the property he/she was disposing of and the claims to which he/she ought to give effect to. These principals have been established in what is called case law. Often wills are disputed when persons making their wills are suffering from various mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Claims for financial maintenance

These claims occur if it can be shown that the person making the claim was in somewhere dependent upon the deceased before he or she died. The time limited to make a claim in these situations is very limited and advice should be taken immediately.

Other cases which are common arise when the Executors have acted unreasonably, or where the deceased has made very clear promises of an inheritance, only then to disinherit or cut someone close to them out of their will.