What You Must Know About Disputed Estates in UK Law

disputed estates in the UK

The loss of a loved one can be devastating. However, the matter can lead to more anguish and continued frustration when dealing with a dispute over the deceased’s inheritance. In some instances, this dispute can only be resolved via legal intervention. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you can tackle the issue with integrity through will, probate, and trust dispute negotiation, mediation, and court action if required.

Here’s everything you need to know about disputed estates in UK law:

Inheritance Provision for Family and Dependents Act 1975

This 1975 Act defines categories of individuals who can raise a claim against a deceased individual’s estate on the basis that the estate does not reasonably provide for them financially. These claims can be filed within six months from the date of the grant of probate. In certain cases, an individual passes, and reasonable financial provision is not given to their dependents, breaking the terms of the will. When that happens, this Act allows you to claim against the person’s estate. You can only make a claim if you are the spouse or civil partner of the deceased, a child of the deceased, a financial dependent, the former partner of the deceased who hadn’t remarried, or someone who lived with the deceased for about two years before their demise. When considering your application, the court will assess several factors, including your financial needs and resources, the size of the deceased’s estate, and the needs of the other applicants.

How to Challenge the Validity of a Will

You can challenge the decease’s will’s validity on several grounds, including lack of knowledge and approval, testamentary capacity, fraud, and more. According to section 9 of the Requirements of the Wills Acts 1837, no will shall become valid unless:

  • It is written and signed by the testator or by someone else in his presence
  • The signature is acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present simultaneously
  • The will is signed and attested by each witness in the presence of the testator

The Rule against Double Portions Related to Lifetime Gifts by Parents

The court views that a parent is responsible for providing for their children and presumes that they would want to treat their children equally. It’s where the rule against double portions enters the picture. The rule applies if your parent makes a provision for their child through will but then makes a lifetime gift to the child. The court presumes that the parent would not provide twice for one child while disadvantaging their other children. If the rule is followed, the lifetime gift is regarded as payment on account of the legacy, which is then reduced to reflect that payment.

Proprietary Estoppel

When it comes to disputed estates in UK law, you must also learn about proprietary estoppel. It happens when a testator represents to a beneficiary that they will leave their house to them in the will, that person relies on their words, and the testator does not follow through. This situation gives rise to an estoppel, which can prevent the testator from changing their mind. The testator becomes bound to follow through with their earlier promise. If someone claims proprietary estoppel, the court determines whether the claim should succeed or not and how to satisfy the equity for the disappointed beneficiary.

So, when you have a disputed estate case on your hands, reach out to a competent lawyer who can help you turn the case in your favour and get you your rightful inheritance.