In short, probate is the legal right to deal with a person’s property, money and possessions when they die. The collective term for property, money and possessions is an ‘estate’.

An estate is only distributed once a Grant of Probate has been obtained. This legal document gives the executor (the personal representative appointed) the legal right to deal with the estate in accordance with the Will or, in a case where there is no Will, under the rules of intestacy.

Although it is possible to contest a Will after probate has been granted and the estate has been distributed, the process can be far more complicated than if the dispute is raised before this time.

Why contest a Will?

It is possible to contest a Will where you have a challenge regarding the validity of the Will or you wish to make a claim against the deceased person’s estate for reasonable financial provision (as described in the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 – “1975 Act claim”.

Under the 1975 Act, a claim for reasonable financial provision out of a person’s estate must be filed at court within six months of the Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration if the deceased died intestate). Permission from the court is required to make such a claim outside this time limit, which is only granted in exceptional circumstances.

Contesting a Will after Probate

As with any dispute, seeking legal advice and bringing a claim forward as early as possible is essential. Particularly in these circumstances, acting quickly is vital because assets or finances may need to be recovered (in a case where the claim is successful). Failure to do so may be problematic and lead to high costs in resolving the issue.

A challenge to the validity of a Will aims to invalidate a Will due to some fault in the circumstances surrounding its preparation or the way in which it was signed and witnessed. The purpose is to revive a previous Will (if there was one) or to distribute the estate according to the intestacy rules if there was no previous valid Will.

There is no specific time limit for bringing such a claim to court. However, if a person delays in filing a claim after probate has been granted, there is a greater likelihood that the estate will already have been distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will.  Tracing assets to the beneficiaries and recovering them can be challenging, time-consuming and costly if the assets have already been dissipated. Moreover, evidence may weaken over time where files and records have been destroyed and key witnesses’ memories may fade.

Will Solicitors Near Me

Seeking the advice of a trusted solicitor regarding any matter relating to Wills and estate administration is essential, particularly in cases where time has passed or you are uncertain as to your rights.

To speak to a trusted legal professional regarding your Wills and probate matter today, please contact Beverley Morris & Co., solicitors in Blackheath, who can talk through your matter with you and assist you in taking the best course of action.

Please call 020 8852 4433 or email today.