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WHILE it might be tempting to write out your wishes on a signed piece of paper or just ‘google it’, simply taking the advice of a solicitor when preparing your will can help prevent a dispute arising between your family after your death.
In a recent High Court case, an elderly gentleman didn’t listen to the advice of his solicitor to make a professionally drafted will and consequently an acrimonious High Court dispute arose after his death.
One daughter claimed she had located a photocopy of her father’s DIY will, the original of which was never found. The will purported to leave this daughter his home, completely disregarding her brother and sister.
Sadly, the Court found one of his daughters forged her father’s will, thinking she would inherit everything. On submitting the will to probate, the siblings argued this will had been totally made up.
Further evidence was heard from the father’s solicitor who described him as a lovely but lonely old man, whom he advised on numerous occasions and repeatedly suggested a professionally drafted will but the client had never heeded the advice.
It was said the circumstances in which the will was made were highly suspicious and the language used was not that typically used in such a document, suggesting the daughter had written the will herself.
The Court was satisfied this was a forged document, meaning the gentleman had died intestate (without a valid will) and his estate would be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules and divided equally among his three children.
When challenging a will, it is also important to make sure you get the right advice from someone who specialises in this area. At Pearson we have two solicitors who work in this area of contentious probate.
“I see many cases similar to this where people have not prepared a will, thinking that their estate will automatically go to their children,” said Laura Pracy, Head of Inheritance and Will Disputes.
“It is so important to discuss your plans with a solicitor and to get your wishes recorded into a will as it could save a lot of heartache for your family in the future.”
The Inheritance Act sets out what the Courts will take into account when considering a claim, who can make a claim and if reasonable financial provision has been made.
These include the financial resources of the person making the inheritance claim, the deceased’s moral obligations, the size and nature of the estate, and any physical/mental disability suffered by the person making the inheritance claim.
“We understand this can be a difficult time when you have discovered you have not inherited either under a will or as a consequence of the intestacy rules and we are able to offer different ways to fund a claim which can in certain cases include us acting for you on under a Conditional Fee Agreement, sometimes known as ‘No Win No Fee’,” added Laura.
• If you have any questions on inheritance and will disputes, contact Laura Pracy on
0161 785 3500 or email email@example.com