Acting for a defendant in Inheritance Disputes

Acting For A Defendant In Inheritance Disputes

Lawyers will often make claims against the estate of someone who has died. They will typically make claims on one of the following grounds: –

  • The Will was not signed or properly witnessed.
  • The Will is invalid – for example because the person making the Will didn’t have testamentary capacity, was subject to undue influence or made the Will as a result of lies being told about a different beneficiary (this is known by the strange phrase “Fraudulent Calumny”.
  • A claim can be made against an estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975.

At Nicholson Jones Sutton we are often involved in defending claims such as these.

Claims can be defended on a variety of grounds – firstly the allegations may, simply, be untrue. Just because a disappointed beneficiary says that a Will wasn’t property witnessed it does not necessarily mean that it wasn’t.

If a Will looks to be valid and is rational then there is a strong presumption that it was validly signed and witnessed – even if, perhaps many years later, one of the witnesses says that it wasn’t.

Likewise, some claimants basically run a claim on the basis “well they must have been mad – otherwise they wouldn’t have excluded me”. It is quite tragic how many disappointed beneficiaries seek to present claims without much more than this wholly inadequate, type of claim. Claims for reasonable provision under the Inheritance Act can be difficult and complex to defend – but there are a whole variety of tactics and strategies available to the defendant including: –

  • Presenting strong and credible defence to a claim.
  • Making a strategic and tactical offer to settle the claim sooner rather than later – just as an example in one of the claims we defended recently a claimant made a claim for £600,000 out of an estate. We persuaded our clients to make an early tactical offer of £10,000 and the offer was accepted – demonstrating a complete lack of belief in the claim by the claimant – but an offer like this avoided the worry, risk and expense of a trial for our client – indeed one of our strengths and talents is to be able to help clients to avoid the risk, worry and expense of a trial.
  • Mediation. In some circumstances we will advise our clients to embark on a process of mediation. It is important to choose the “right” mediator to help resolve a case. To be blunt some mediators are not very good – but the cases that we take to mediation have an astonishingly high success rate – again helping to avoid the worry, risk and expense of a trial.

So, if, like an increasing number of people in this country you find yourself involved in an Inheritance Dispute – either as a claimant or as a defendant then we are here to help. 

We can get it sorted

It’s what we do. 

Call us.  It’s free to ask.



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