Bell Lax pioneered no win no fee arrangements for commercial disputes. If you lose, we lose, therefore we always fight for you.
Disputed Wills & Probate
Bell Lax has a great deal of experience in disputes arising out of wills, or the lack of a will, and arguments that commence after a death in the family.
We can advise and assist clients with:-
- Challenges against an estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, when reasonable provision has not been made for a child or dependant of the deceased;
- Claims where a client may feel they have been left out of the Will due to undue influence on the will-maker, or a lack of mental capacity when the will was made or changed;
- Claims where a will has not been properly executed;
- Disputes between Executors and Beneficiaries, as to the interpretation of a will or as to the distribution of particular assets. This can include, where appropriate, making an application for the removal of an executor of a will.
- Negligence claims against a professional - such as a Solicitor who made errors in the drawing of the Will
We offer advice on potential claims such as: claims based on suggestions that a will may be unfair; or that a will was not validly signed; or that the testator either did not have the mental capacity to make a valid will or was unduly influenced in making gifts in a will. The Will may not have been properly drafted or witnessed. You may suspect there is a more recent Will which is being with-held.
Circumstances may have changed significantly from the original date of the Will, including blended family arrangements and cohabitee issues when couples spilt up and live with new partners.
Clients need to be advised on their options in cases where there is no will, or the will has been lost or destroyed. We also advise on claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for members of the family for whom sufficient financial provision should have been made but was not, and we can also make applications to remove or replace an executor of the will. We also act for clients where the former solicitor failed to follow instructions in the preparation of the will and as a result suffered financially due to large inheritance tax payments due. We also advise and act for clients when the solicitors who drafted the Will and then distributed the proceeds incorrectly.
If these claims have good prospects of success, we will often look at flexible funding such as helping clients to pursue their claims on a “no win, no fee” or deferred fee basis. Legal fees can sometimes be recovered from the estate in the event that the claim is successful, or we can agree to be paid by reference to what a client recovers from the estate.
We also act for executors or beneficiaries wishing to uphold wills which are being disputed by others, perhaps because the others feel that they should have benefited from the will. As we have significant experience of acting for those contesting wills, and for those seeking to uphold them, Bell Lax has a good understanding of both sides of the arguments. This means that we are able to give solid practical advice based on how a Judge may see a contested will dispute.
We are able to assist with aspects of will and probate disputes, even if a client does not wish to pursue a claim immediately. Whilst there is no time limitation for challenging fraudulent wills, if you wish to contest a will under the Inheritance Act you must act within 6 months of when grant of probate is given. A Court may overrule this time limit if there are exceptional circumstances.
All parties are now required to consider mediation and/or a similar type of alternative dispute resolution which can be particularly appropriate and helpful in family situations. This can give the parties some additional time to reach an amicable settlement which can prevent the family pulling apart for good, if that is required. It can also help keep down the costs of these sorts of disputes, which can often otherwise be very expensive and result in the deceased's estate being rapidly diminished.
A recent client said "All our dealings with Richard kerry were of an exceptional professional and committed nature - would highly recommend."
Should you have an enquiry regarding a possible argument concerning a will, or the estate of a deceased relative or friend, please call Richard Kerry on 0121 355 0011 for a free no obligation discussion regarding your legal dispute.