This is a collaborative post
The days and weeks after someone dies are always a blur of emotion, stress, and shock. There is no right way to process the death of a loved one, and it can be hard to pull yourself together enough to get started on all the necessary paperwork and legal issues that follow someone’s passing away.
Anyone who has attended the reading of a will knows that the process of learning what someone has decided to do with their estate can be just as tough. No matter what you expect, there will always be some surprises, with the added difficulty of the fact that the person who has made these decisions is no longer there to defend them.
It is a time when old disputes can reappear, and when heightened emotions can get in the way of reason. That is why it is so important to make sure that you are prepared, and that you seek legal advice as soon as it is required. Here are a few of the issues that may occur.
There Is No Will
Let’s start with one of the biggest problems that might crop up. In an ideal world, everyone would have a detailed, comprehensive will when they pass away. Sadly, there are plenty of circumstances where this is simply not possible, and some people simply choose to avoid the process altogether.
In the event of someone passing away without leaving a will, the law states that the deceased’s estate goes to their spouse or civil partner. It is important to note that if the marriage or civil partnership has ended prior to the death, they will not be entitled to inherit. In the event that there is no spouse or partner to inherit, the estate will go to any children. Other close relatives may inherit but it will depend on who is next in line. If there are no surviving relatives, the estate will go to the Crown.
The search for relatives can be a lengthy one, and relatives may need to prove their status by providing evidence with birth or marriage certificates. If you believe that you are entitled to an inheritance in this instance, you will need to seek legal advice and be sure that you can provide the proper legal paperwork.
The Executor Needs To Be Removed
Deciding to remove an executor from a will is a difficult choice to make but there are several instances where it may be necessary. Some will be less emotionally charged than others. For example, if the will was made some time ago then there is a chance that the named executor has passed away themselves or is no longer capable of performing their duties. Automatic removal can also occur if the named executor has been outside of the UK for more than 12 months. However, there are some instances where the removal of an executor can become a little more complicated.
For example, you may feel like the executor is showing more favour to one party so much that you doubt their impartiality, or they may be profiting from their role as executor or in some other way demonstrate that they are untrustworthy. Sometimes the executor may simply refuse to take on their role. Whatever the reason behind the contentious probate, you will need an experienced solicitor to handle this issue. Talk to Hugh James solicitors to get the best advice on how to move forward.
Someone Wants To Contest The Will
The sad truth of the matter is that, more often than not, there will be somebody who disagrees with some detail of the will. There are a lot of contributing factors that go towards the raised emotions surrounding inheritance, particularly because it deals with the death of a loved one and the fact that there are a lot of feelings surrounding who deserves what, or what something being left to someone else says about how the deceased felt about the aggrieved party. The pandemic had a huge impact on families, and everyone has felt the emotional and financial strain. It is also true that people can lose sight of the bigger picture when there is money involved, or property that has significant emotional or financial value.
A serious issue that could arise is the possibility that the will has been changed or written when the person in question was incapacitated, or under duress from another individual. This is obviously a question that is emotionally loaded and difficult to raise. Matters can be further complicated if there has been another will in the past that contradicts the new one.
Whether the issue has been made more complicated by the addition of an emotional element or not, contesting a will or claiming inheritance that you believe that you are owed is a situation that requires a solicitor. Try to avoid too much back and forth with other parties beforehand.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post