Wills & Estate Planning

Wills and Estate Administration

This is a list of services provided but not exclusive to what we do:

  • Probate and Estate Administration
  • Disputing a Will
  • Contesting the provisions of a will
  • Advice on illegal, coerced, duress or fraudulent wills
  • Advice on executors’ duties and responsibilities
  • Disputes with executors including removal thereof
  • Injunctions to stop money being paid out incorrectly
  • Powers of Attorneys for Executors
  • Registering a caveat to stop Grant of Probate
  • Protection under the Family Provisions Act
  • Estate Settlement Agreements
  • Deeds of Variation
  • Cross Option Agreements
  • Foreign Executors and Administration
  • Resealing Grants of Probate in the UK
  • Dealing with all aspects of administration and property abroad
  • Intestacy
  • Arranging specialist Insurance for Estate administration problems
  • Arranging specialist Insurance to protect Executors duties and liabilities
  • Arranging Insurance for losses within estate administration

Problems with Wills

These days when people die disputes can arise.

Our principle has over thirty-five years of legal experience in this area, and in a in the last five/ten years the growth in disputes has been the greatest expanse of this area of the law.

Often these are very stressful.

We are constantly asked to give advice on these matters.

They generally, but not always, fall into two categories.

This can be that no will can be found, and one or more family members believe they are entitled to assets/monies. Other family members believe they are entitled to some benefit. If no valid will can be found, then the law sets out the way the estate should be distributed.

This can be challenged, and there is what is known as case law to give guidance. This is a complicated area of law and advice should be taken.

3C Legal Services will do this and resolve the problem.

Disputes can occur within the family, and the first sign of trouble is often a family member saying, ‘it’s not the money but the principle that matters’.

We have often seen homemade wills, or wills made by non-qualified persons creating the problem, as they do not set out the correct position, or the terms of the will are vague, confused or capable of several different interpretations.

Sadly, over the years we have seen an increase in situations where the will maybe contested, as the will purported to represent the deceased persons wishes was created by fraud, forged, coercion or duress, which can only be determined by evidence. If any of these matters can be clearly shown, then the will is invalid.

We have often acted for executors who have faced disputes as family members have simply ‘tried it on’. We have also acted for beneficiaries who have a legitimate claim. This is an ever-increasing area of the law which can be complicated, and it is important that your advisers are up to date with any new legislation or new case law.

Where we are instructed, we will attempt to resolve this matter by way of mediation. However regrettably some issues can only be determined by the Courts, which is an expensive process and will reduce the value of the estate to be distributed.

Wills – A Time for Review with Foreign Property

Owners of French gites, Spanish poolside villas and Italian ski Chalets are now finally able to decide who inherits their getaways. From August 2015 a new European Agreement came into effect which changes the law.

In the UK we have what is known as ‘freedom of testamentary capacity’ this means that a testator ‘the person making the will’ can leave his or her assets to whom they wish. Nobody under UK law, where a will is concerned, is entitled to anything. That is the general rule.

However, this is subject to certain legislation and case law. There has been a number of cases in which the Courts have seen fit to interfere in the above. Careful planning and will drafting is required in such circumstances.

However in Europe this is not the general rule, and many UK citizens with holiday homes are unaware that so called ‘forced heirship’ rules means they cannot freely choose who inherits properties in most European countries, with local laws usually stipulating that a certain share of a property must pass onto particular family members.

But now with new European regulations on cross-border legacies, allow people to specify that a property be bequeathed, under the law of their country of nationality or ‘habitual residence’, opening up new options for whom they wish to leave that property to.

Forced heirship rules are widespread across Europe, and normally say that the children must receive a specific share. There are people who are not aware of this. But you can now elect to have a different law applied.

Legacies have increasingly been caught in a web of contradictory inheritance laws across Europe, as people move across borders more often. The new regulations are an attempt to streamline these, and reduce prolonged and very expensive disputes.

Owners of assets elsewhere in the EU should now review their wills.

The change does not affect tax rules, which are applied in the country where a property is located.

These can be particularly onerous where the property is left to an unmarried partner.

The new succession rules are further complicated as the UK, Ireland and Denmark have opted out, meaning overseas owners of properties in these countries cannot choose to invoke laws from elsewhere.

The UK and Ireland largely allow people to choose who inherits their property, but Denmark implements some forced heirship rules.

Owners with properties abroad should now review their wills.

If you have any queries, please free to contact us.