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Legal Disputes Following A Bereavement

At Wake Smith Solicitors we are regularly consulted in relation to all manner of disputes that can arise after a bereavement.  We have considerable experience in advising and representing clients in such a situation.

Our team is led by Nick Lambert the chairman and solicitor with over 30 years’ experience in dealing with cases in this area and he is assisted by Stephen Thompson a legal executive with a similar level of experience.  We will listen carefully to what you want, advise you on your options and look for the most practical and beneficial solution for you. Sometimes that will involve fighting a court case and sometimes it will involve detailed negotiations designed to achieve a particular outcome for you.

You can expect us to give you the best information we can about the cost of each option available to you and their respective merits.

The range of disputes that we cover is practically limitless, but the following will give you some idea of the main issues that crop up time and again:-

1. A challenge to the validity of the will

This normally takes the form of an allegation that:-

(a) The will was not properly signed and/or witnessed; and/or

(b) That the person making the will did not have the necessary mental capacity to understand what he or she was doing when the will was made; and/or

(c) That improper pressure was brought to bear on the person making the will, normally by a family member or carer which influenced the person making the will; and/or

(d) That the person making the will did not know and approve of its contents; and/or

(e) Fraud

2. Disputes about the distribution of a deceased’s estate

Whether or not the deceased left a will the law does give certain family members and dependents the right to claim a share of the estate. The rules are complicated and every case depends on its own facts. These sort of cases are normally brought by children who have been cut out of their mother or father’s will sometimes for what looks like a good reason. They always need careful and experienced handling given that they pit family members against each other.

3. Disputes about the ownership of property

Commonly arguments develop about property, usually a house, said to be owned by the deceased. It is not uncommon for a dependent or partner to allege that they put money into the property whether directly or indirectly and therefore should be entitled to a share of it.

4. Disputes with or between Executors 

Sometimes Executors fall out about decisions that need to be made. It might be that one Executor doesn’t agree with what the other wants to do or it might be that another family member or relative doesn’t agree with what the Executors want to do. Often those dependents or family members who aren’t involved as Executors feel that they have a right to know more about what is happening and sometimes somebody might take the view that something that has happened is just unfair.

5. Claims against professionals

Increasingly these days now that wills can be drawn up by any non-qualified will writer, we come across wills that are defective in some way which affects their validity or are just very badly drafted. Sometimes that means that the will is vague. Sometimes it means that the wishes of the person that made the will have not been properly recorded. In those sorts of cases it is always worth considering a claim against the person that drafted the will. 

Legal Disputes Following A Bereavement Team

Michael Doherty

Stephen Thompson
Senior Chartered Legal Executive

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