The passing of a loved one is always such a devastating time. One thing you can guarantee is the sadness and overwhelming grief which hits everyone. The last thing grieving family members want to do is to go through their loved one estate and finances. A will is always a way to ensure when you pass the process for those you leave behind is as easy as possible. However this is not always the case.
Even if a will is in place sadly it does not always mean the process is smooth sailing. Sadly, family members often disagree over wills.
Generally speaking will disputes arise in 2 ways, the validity of a will or the distribution.
What factors will mean a will may not be valid?
In England and Wales, wills must follow strict formalities.
The requirements are:
- That the Will is in writing
- Made by a person over 18 years of age
- Signed by the testator, or signed on their behalf under directions of the testator and in their presence
- The testator intended to give effect to the will by his signature.
- The signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time.
- Each witness either attests and signs the will or acknowledges his signature.
If any of these requirements are not met than there may be grounds for the will to be declared invalid.
If one or more of the above are not met and it is very obvious it is likely that the probate office will not grant probate at all.
However in most cases it will not be as obvious. For example a family member who is not the executor of the will may have reasons less obvious and feel the will is invalid.
If you are not the executor of the will but you have suspicions the will may not be valid than you can place a CAVEAT on the will.
What is a caveat and how can I use it?
A caveat is a notice which prevents anyone obtaining grant of probate in the deceased’s estate, which basically stops the administration of the will.
Entering a caveat is fairly straightforward and the fee is just £20.
A caveat will last 6 months with a option to renew every 6 months. Hopefully in this time the family members can discuss issues and come to a mutual agreement.
Other disputes can be down to the distribution of the estate described in the will.
If the will proclaims ‘Julie’ is to receive £5000, but she never receives it, there will be disputes.
This goes with any asset within the estate, be it money or physical. If an executor fails to distribute an estate correctly they can face serious penalties. This includes being held in contempt of court, fined or even given a jail sentence. Therefore, it is vital to ensure an estate is distributed correctly.
Our sister company, Athena, can work on your behalf as executor of an estate. Hiring professional estate administrators removes any stress and inevitable confusion of distributing a complex estate described in a will.