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There are a number of issues that a probate law solicitor must consider in detail when a will is being prepared. Wills and probate law sets out strict requirements for the proper execution of a valid will. If the will is not properly signed and witnessed, then the entire document is invalid. Without a valid will in place, the State may be able to step in and claim assets. Whether or not a will was properly executed is one of the most frequently contested issues in probate law.

 

When writing a will, you should account for each and every one of your assets. If you fail to bequeath all of your assets then the state will be may be able to claim what’s left. Families aren’t static. They’re dynamic, and relationships frequently change. Families can grow larger through birth, marriage and civil partnership or smaller through death and divorce. A skilled probate law solicitor is cognisant of the changing nature of families and attempts to take every contingency into account when creating a will. If changing family circumstances aren’t considered, then any of the events listed above could derail the testator’s intentions.

 

A person who depends on the testator has a right to continued support after the testator dies. A skilled will maker knows this and as such will make appropriate enquiries regarding the testator’s familial relationships and responsibilities. Failing to adequately provide for a dependent can render the rest of the will useless if that dependent decides to take legal action for financial support. A probate law solicitor can help you balance your wishes against the rights of dependants.

Executors And Administrators Duty

Once the Grant of Probate is issued, the executor has the legal right to manage the assets according to the will. In doing so, the executor might be called on to sell property, liquidate shares or call in the balance of a bank account. Only after the assets are liquidated and the debts and taxes are paid does the executor begin to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries of the will. Executors must exercise extreme caution and good judgment whilst fulfilling these duties, keeping in mind that under probate law an executor has a personal responsibility to the beneficiaries as well as for any taxes due to the State.

Intestacy Laws

The purpose of writing a will is to ensure that when you pass away your assets go to the people you want to have them. There is no law that requires you to make a will, but those people who fail to make a will are, in essence, allowing the state to decide where their assets should go. When you die without a will, laws come into effect that dictate which relatives have claims to your estate. If no qualifying relatives can be found, then your property is handed over to the Government.

You and only you should decide how your assets are distributed. A probate law solicitor can assist you with drafting a will that deals with complicated situations and minimizes the burden on your loved ones:

~ fully distributing all of your assets so that the Crown cannot take them
~ providing for a partner to whom you are not married so that they are given the support not provided for by law
~ for divorced testators, deciding what, if anything, to leave to your former spouse after the divorce nullified gifts made to them in your pre-divorce will
~ using tax planning techniques to lawfully reduce the inheritance tax burden on your estate

 

You are not legally required to have a solicitor write your will. You can write the will yourself or purchase a do-it-yourself kit. You can even employ one of the unqualified businesses that advertise willmaking services. Before you decide who should write your will, think about everything you have and the people you love. Who do you trust to see to it that your assets are properly distributed to the people you care about? Amongst all those choices, who is best qualified to create documents that are unambiguous and legally binding?

Revoking a Will

One way to revoke a will is to physically destroy it. The destruction can be done by the person who made the will or by someone acting on that person’s behalf, often their solicitor. Once destroyed, the will is of no legal consequence. Tearing up or burning the will are both considered legally sufficient for destroying it. Note that accidental damage done to the will does not cause automatic revocation. For example, the person’s dog might chew up the will. If that happened, the will would remain valid and a copy of the will would be legally sufficient to demonstrate the deceased’s intentions. A will also remains valid even if it is stolen from the solicitor’s office or lost in the post. A person can alter their will by means of an addendum known as a codicil. Such codicils must be properly executed in order to be considered legally binding.

Probate Law Solicitors

Every member of our team is an expert contested probate lawyer and they are qualified to take on all cases of contentious probate, be it objecting to a will on the grounds of invalidity or dealing with a claim to the estate made by a non-beneficiary or one of the testator's dependents. Our team of solicitors is also experienced in handling caveats, which are legally-issued notices that can have the effect of delaying an executor's appointment, or preventing it altogether. Additionally, we can take action to remove executors and administrators who are negligent or fraudulent in carrying out their responsibilities. Similarly, we can bring a legal action to remove an executor or administrator whose appointment is inequitable.


If you are dealing with a legal action related to a contentious will, contact us today for free advice. Simply telephone us on our helpline or complete the contact form. You will be contacted by an experienced contested probate lawyer. This initial consultation is free of charge and there are no further obligations.


Typically our contested probate lawyer experts are able to provide on-the-spot advice about the following matters:-

  • With the rise of DIY will kits, cases of disputed probate are increasing, too. A contested probate lawyer can represent a potential beneficiary who is challenging a disputed will in a court of law. The law dictates specific requirements for a valid will. Failing to meet any one of these requirements can invalidate the entire document. The requirements of a valid will include:-
    • the testator must be over the age of 18
    • the testator must not be under the undue influence of any person
    • the testator be of sound mind and must be fully aware of the meaning of the document
    • the testator must sign the will in the presence of two independent witnesses, who then must also sign the will themselves
    • a witness to the signing of the will who is also a beneficiary will lose their inheritance


  • In the case of a lost will, a contested probate lawyer may be able to help the proposed executor obtain a grant of probate through a copy of the will. However, an individual who was a beneficiary of an earlier will but not of the will in question may challenge the validity of the copy. The prior beneficiary may try to prove that the will is not lost, but was rather destroyed by the testator as an act of revocation. Testimony from credible witnesses and detailed documentation are the types of evidence necessary to win a challenge to a lost will. Note that it is up to the beneficiaries of the prior will to prove that the will was intentionally destroyed.


  • Dependents, such as a partner, minor or mentally disabled person, have a legal right to continued support after the testator's death. Dependents of the deceased who are not sufficiently provided for in the will can challenge the will in court. The court can order that the dependent receive support from the assets of the estate on the grounds that the deceased failed to properly discharge a legal responsibility.


  • Sometimes the executor or administrator of an estate objects to the Inheritance Tax assessment performed by the Capital Taxes Office. In these cases, we may be able to assist in one of two ways. Using a deed of variation of the will may be appropriate, and we can also provide representation to the individual negotiating with the Capital Taxes Office.

  • SOLICITORS HELPLINE: ☎ 0330 660 7004