Claims can arise where a loved one has lost capacity or been subject to undue influence in their lifetime, or where fraud is uncovered. In those circumstances, their will or a lifetime transaction, such as a transfer of property which leaves their estate empty, can be investigated and challenged after that person’s death.
Both Eleanor and Paul are specialists in this complex area of law and Paul is accredited by the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS).
We act for individual claimants and defendants, personal representatives, trustees and charities.
We can advise in the following areas:
- Is the will valid? - The validity of a will can be challenged on the grounds of lack of formality (especially if it’s not witnessed properly), mistake, mental capacity, want of knowledge and approval, undue influence and fraud;
- Inheritance disputes - The following people are all potentially eligible to bring a claim for financial provision: children or a person being treated as a child of the family; a spouse or former spouse and civil partners; cohabitees; and those receiving financial support at the time of death;
- Is the estate being administered properly? - Personal representatives have a duty to keep beneficiaries informed, gather in the assets, account for their dealings, pay the deceased’s debts and distribute the estate in accordance with a valid will or the intestacy rules. They can be brought to account or removed if they are in breach;
- Who should administer the estate? - If one or more personal representative is unfit to act due to mental incapacity, dishonesty, bankruptcy or any other exceptional reason, then they can be substituted before or removed after their appointment;
- Broken promises - In some circumstances, if a person is given an assurance or a promise of an inheritance or an interest in land and property and relies upon it to their detriment, then a claim can be brought against the estate to enforce the promise;
- Abuse of those who lack capacity in their lifetime - The Court of Protection is there to oversee and supervise a vulnerable person's finances and welfare if required; it can revoke Powers of Attorney, appoint supervising Deputies, approve lifetime gifts and even make a will on their behalf.
Visit our Contentious Trusts and Estates FAQ page, where Eleanor Stenson and Paul Lewis answer some of the questions you may have about inheritance, trusts and estates.