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Contentious Probate Case Studies
Case Study 1
We were instructed by a cohabitee whose partner had died in an accident. They had been living together for 10 years but the deceased had not changed his Will in which he had left his estate to his children from his previous marriage. Our client and her partner had complicated financial affairs which meant that she had a constructive trust claim against the estate as well as an Inheritance Act claim. This meant that it was her case that a property in her partner’s sole name actually belonged in part to her as well. There was a great deal of bitterness involved in this family dispute but it was resolved finally at a lengthy mediation, in our client’s favour.
Case Study 2
The adult children of an elderly reclusive father were shocked to find out after his death that he had apparently made a Will leaving everything to a friend of his that they had never heard of. They were convinced that his Will was a forgery; it was a homemade Will with spelling mistakes and other errors and one of the witnesses could not be located at all, although another witness did support the Will’s validity. We obtained the opinion of a forensic document examiner; a great deal of work had to be done to find samples of the deceased’s handwriting and signatures over the years. The expert’s evidence was supportive but not conclusive and ultimately a deal was reached whereby the estate was divided between the friend and the adult children.
Case Study 3
We acted for the young children of a woman who was the victim of domestic violence. She and her husband were separated but not divorced at the time of her death. She had made a Will leaving her estate to her children but her ex-husband challenged her Will under the Inheritance Act and sought to claim her entire estate (which was relatively small) for himself. We were recommended to the family by a firm of solicitors who were instructed by the executors midway through the case when the other solicitors involved had incurred significant legal costs, having not understood that the children needed separate legal advice. The case was settled on the basis of paying the father a nominal sum in order to avoid an expensive court hearing.
Case Study 4
We were instructed by the executrix of her late mother’s estate. She was the daughter of the deceased and was the sole beneficiary of the Will. Her sister (who had fallen out with her mother many years before) was excluded from the Will. The disappointed sister sought to challenge the Will and claimed that her mother lacked mental capacity at the time that she had made it. We sought a copy of the Will file from the solicitor who had made the Will but he had unfortunately destroyed it! However he provided a statement in support of our client’s case and the aggrieved sister was unable to provide any evidence to support her allegations. She was eventually persuaded to withdraw her claim without any payment being made to her.
See how we could help with your contentious probate case, contact Ridley & Hall today. You can call our Huddersfield office on 0843 289 4640 or email us to arrange an initial consultation.