You may have received information that a loved one changed their Will in circumstances that concern you. Sometimes this is a last minute change made very shortly before death. If you become aware that the new Will excludes dependants or family members and you feel that it is “not right”, we can help. It is important to take action quickly and before Probate has been issued. If you act after probate has been issued, any action is more costly as it would almost certainly involve contentious probate proceedings.
The first step is to enter a caveat at the Probate Registry to prevent a grant from being issued without notice to you while matters are investigated. This can be done online. As caveats expire after six months, if matters have not been resolved by then, the caveat should be renewed within the last month of the caveat. If you do not renew the caveat before it expires, the grant may be issued in relation to the Will you wish to challenge without notice to you.
As a Will is a confidential document and a copy will only be released with the consent of the executors, if you are not able to obtain a copy of the Will yourself, we can send a Larke-v-Nugus letter on your behalf. In some cases, this will successfully result in a copy of the Will and the Will file being obtained from the solicitor who prepared the Will.
If the Larke-v-Nugus process is not appropriate or is unsuccessful, we can advise on the possibility of seeking disclosure of relevant documents by obtaining a Court Order.
Following initial investigations, in some cases clients will wish to formally challenge the validity of the Deceased’s last Will in contentious probate proceedings. Sometimes it is possible for matters to be dealt with by agreement, say, at a mediation as an alternative to Court proceedings. However you wish to proceed, it is highly recommended that you take specialist advice.
If, having investigated matters, it transpires that the Will is probably valid and if you are a class of potential claimant who can consider making a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, we can advise on that process as well. This would not be a challenge to the validity of the Will as such but in appropriate cases, a Court can award that some financial provision is given to a claimant on the basis that the Will does not leave them with sufficient financial position.
Contentious probate work is highly specialised. Karen Bower-Brown is a recognised specialist in this area and is a full member of the Association of Contentious Trust & Probate Specialists. (ACTAPS).