Q: My aunt was incapacitated for several years before her death. With no children or partner, my parents looked after her and had power of attorney over her affairs and my father was executor of her Will. I know they sold off valuable possessions of hers and kept the money. When she died last year, my father told me she left me £40,000, which he has just paid me. My aunt however told me I would receive more than that. As I believe my parents syphoned off her assets can I contest the Will?
A: Generally, there are two reasons for contesting a Will. Firstly, if the Will is invalid; for example, it was not created correctly, or the deceased had insufficient mental capacity when it was drawn up, or someone had tried to influence decisions about its content. And secondly, if it does not make ‘reasonable financial provision’ for someone who was financially dependent on the deceased; this would normally be a spouse, civil partner or ex-spouse or ex-civil partner who has not remarried, or a cohabitant, child or someone the deceased raised as a child.
If a grant of probate has not yet been obtained a caveat can be entered to stop it being issued, allowing time for investigations to be made regarding the claim and protecting the estate meanwhile. However, once a grant of probate has been obtained the executor can access and distribute the estate assets, which is the stage that your aunt’s Will would appear to be at. Once the assets have been distributed, even if you could justify bringing a claim, it would be more difficult and costly to contest the Will. Therefore, it is important to put the executor on notice of any claim as soon as possible. In respect of claims for “reasonable financial provision”, you only have 6 months from the date that probate was granted to make the claim, so it always advisable to seek legal advice.
This question has been answered by Sophie Bebbington, a Legal Executive with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194