Inheritance solicitors are professional law practitioners who, among other responsibilities, help family members settle disputes involving wills and inheritances. According to a 2017 survey, there were more than 8,100 case applications to prevent grants of probate (in other words, wills being implemented and proceeds of estates being distributed). That’s an increase of 6% on the figures from the previous year.
You may be surprised at the scale of these numbers and wonder what makes inheritance a constant bone of contention for so many people in the UK. OGR Stock Denton is here to shed some light on the most common issues; and explain how important it is to have an experienced solicitor in your corner when it comes to defending and challenging wills.
The Root Cause Of Disputes
Almost 50% of people in the United Kingdom delay or decline to write a proper will, often under the assumption that their assets, such as properties, money and possessions, will automatically go to their spouse, their common-law partner and/ or their children.
However, these days, families are often more complicated than they might once have been. People may marry more than once; they may take on stepchildren from another partner; or have children with a new partner. They may also live with another person as husband and wife, but never formalise the relationship in law.
All these and other perfectly normal milestones in life can end in dispute if one party dies without specifying precisely what is to happen to their assets when the estate is divided up.
With family dynamics evolving over the years, proceedings have become more complex, and the legal implications can become more unclear. Concerned parties will need trustworthy legal advice to make sure that their rights are being looked after. After the already traumatic loss of a loved one, many find dealing with who inherits to be emotionally tolling, which is exactly why a supportive and experienced family inheritance lawyer is becoming so important.
Inheritance Predicaments That Require Solicitors
Unfortunately, having a will does not fully remove the possibility of disputes either. Even where a will has been made, beneficiaries may sometimes feel that the assets have been divided inappropriately.
This also motivates some people to consult lawyers, to discuss and explore the various circumstances under which they might contest the validity of a will. Here are a few key examples:
- Undue Influence
In the UK, according to inheritance dispute solicitors, the most common reason for challenging a will is where it is alleged to have been made under “undue influence”. In other words, the deceased was coerced or unreasonably pressurised into signing the document.
Despite this being the reason why most wills are contested, it is a very difficult thing to prove, given that the burden of proof falls on the appellant. Finding evidence compelling enough to back up the accusation can be impossible for many; but with the right professionals, it is certainly a route that can be pursued legally.
- Testamentary Capacity
Another factor that is commonly cited when a will is challenged is questioning the testamentary capacity of the testator. The will is deemed invalid if it can be proven that the deceased was unable to understand:
- The nature of making a will and its consequences;
- The extent of the property they were disposing of; and/ or
- Who had a valid reason to think they might benefit and the strength of that claim.
The law states that for a will to be ratified, the testator must “have no disorder of the mind” that might otherwise prevent them from understanding what’s right and what’s wrong, or that prevents the exercise of their natural faculties in disposing of their property.
Making an application to vary the terms of a will on these grounds will need expert lawyers for inheritance disputes, as the required approach varies on the complexity of the will; the extent of the deceased’s assets; and the claims made on the testator.
- Rectification And Construction Claims
Much like any other legally binding document, a motion to rectify any clerical errors can be made for wills. Solicitors can argue that the person in charge of drafting the document did not successfully reflect the person’s intentions.
To reiterate, an inheritance solicitor’s main roles are to:
- Identify the rights you can invoke as an heir and beneficiary;
- Contest or defend the ratification of the will; and
- Provide a detailed course of action on how you can best achieve your objectives.
The outcome of inheritance cases can be life-changing, which is why we recommend individuals in need of assistance only consult the most experienced law firm they can find. With OGR Stock Denton, you can rest assured that you will be engaging quality legal services delivered in a timely fashion.
About OGR Stock Denton
We are an established law firm based in London. Active for over 50 years, our experienced solicitors have throughout this time given professional advice to both individuals and businesses on tackling legal cases of all kinds. Our areas of expertise include commercial and residential property law, employment law, family law, litigation, personal injury claims, and company and commercial work.
Our clientele ranges from start-ups and SMEs to large corporations; we have also represented overseas governments, ministers and other international organisations.
We are the lawyers of choice for many clients who are seeking an efficient and effective approach to their legal matters. We pride ourselves on fulfilling our mission: to achieve the ideal outcome as swiftly as possible.
One of the main factors contributing to our success is the value we place on effective communication. It is important to us that you have the best understanding possible of all aspects relating to your case.
This means we are committed to simplifying complex technical terms and concepts in ways our clients can easily comprehend. Moreover, our team includes legal professionals who are fluent in German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Hebrew, Hindi, Kutchi, and Gujarati, so language need be no barrier.
OGR Stock Denton Solicitor Ratings
Accredited by Lexcel and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, our discerning team of inheritance dispute lawyers can resolve issues with wills and inheritance. Our experts are some of the best in our profession, many of whom have extensive experience in taking on cases in both the West End and the City.
You can expect us to keep you fully updated throughout each stage of the procedure, working diligently within the standards and towards the goals you have set. We are driven to ensure that resolution to each matter is gained without unnecessary delays.
But you need not take our word for it; see what our clients have to say about their experiences of working with us. Find positive testimonials about our firm at https://www.reviewsolicitors.co.uk/.
Contact Us Now
Are you in need of legal advice? Send us a message today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our offices on 020 8349 0321. We look forward to helping you.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How much will a solicitor charge for probate in the UK?
This depends on how the services are charged for. Some probate inheritance tax solicitors charge on an hourly basis, while others charge based on a percentage of the property’s value. Commonly, this is around 1% to 5% of the value of the estate, plus VAT.
Do you need a solicitor to sort out a will?
It is entirely possible and legal to write a will yourself. However, it’s highly recommended that you seek out an experienced legal practitioner for last will and testament matters for guidance, especially for the technical legal aspects of any will.
This includes the legality of the inheritance, the properties to be distributed, and so on. With the help of expert solicitors, you will have less work to do and the peace of mind of knowing that your will is properly constructed.
What are the inheritance laws in the UK for close relatives?
If an individual dies intestate and without a surviving spouse or civil partner, his or her children will inherit the assets and properties. If the deceased does have a surviving partner, he or she will only inherit if the value of the estate exceeds a certain amount.
Can I give an inheritance to someone else?
Yes, you can create what is referred to as an “assignment”. That means you can transfer all or a portion of your interest in an estate to someone else. Just remember that inheritances from a trust are usually not transferable to other people. The majority of trusts prohibit assigning an undistributed trust inheritance.
Can you get help with solicitor’s fees?
Help to pay for court representation or legal advice can be available in certain circumstances. You may be able to access low-cost or even free advice from a solicitor or caseworker in a law centre or Citizens Advice Bureau, for instance.
Many firms of inheritance solicitors in London and elsewhere will offer up to half an hour of free legal advice at the outset so that you can evaluate whether it is worth proceeding with a case.
Do you need a solicitor to sort out probate?
You can complete probate yourself. But if there is, or is likely to be, any conflict regarding distribution of the estate, shares, investments, properties, or other assets, then you are advised to hire inheritance tax planning solicitors. This tends to make the process smoother and save stress and worry.
How do you find out which solicitor holds a will?
The National Will Register is a large, national register of wills that can be accessed by families hoping to find the location of any will and who drew it up. If you are unsure as to whether the deceased has made a will, you can consult the Register to find out, and if they have, to discover which attorney for legal property holds a copy of it.
Benefits Of Making A Will
- Financial security for your family. With a will, you have the peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones will benefit from your assets after you have passed away. Making a will is especially important for unmarried partners, as their relationship will not be recognised by the Intestacy Rules.
- Pay less inheritance tax. A will carefully formulated with the help of solicitors specialising in inheritance tax can mean that you pay less inheritance tax from your estate in the future.
Consulting a legal practitioners for estate tax about making a will gives you the opportunity to assess your personal situation and consider what steps to take to mitigate tax issues.
- Avoid inheritance disputes. A will makes your final wishes plain and clear, saving your loved ones the stress of having to distribute your assets after your death. This can prevent unpleasantness and disputes.
The Costs Of Making A Will
- Simple will. This may cost anywhere between £144 and £240.
- Complex will. On average, the fees are around £150 to £300.
- Specialist will. This involves oversea properties or trust, so expect to pay around £500 to £600 for this type of will.
- Mirror will. If you want a will that’s nearly identical to your spouse’s or partner’s, you can opt for this type of will. These wills are easy to prepare, so the cost is negligible.
Take note, though, that these fees are just an estimate. What you are charged will be affected by your location and the complexity of your affairs.
Cases When You Need An Inheritance Tax Lawyer For A Probate Case
If you’re involved in a contentious probate case, you should consider hiring an attorney for contested wills to help you resolve the matter satisfactorily. Examples might include:
- A disputed will or one where the validity is questionable.
- Where a dependent is not included in the will, but wishes to make a claim on it.
- The will covers particularly complex arrangements.
- The deceased went bankrupt, or the estate’s debts are worth more than its assets.
- The deceased lived and/ or died outside of the UK.
- The estate includes assets or properties held abroad.
Things You Should Know About Writing A Will
A will is a legal document created by individuals who wish to state who should handle and benefit from their estates when they die. If someone dies without a valid will in place, the law will decide how the estate is apportioned and to whom. This is where probate comes in; it is the legal procedure for transferring properties to the rightful heirs.
If you have already had a will drafted by a death tax attorney, it’s important to keep the original copy somewhere secure. The solicitors hired to draw up the will can usually keep signed copies in case the original is destroyed.
Only the testator can amend the terms of the will as they see fit. Only the last and latest version of the will (provided it is properly executed) will be taken into account on the testator’s demise.
Eligibility For Probate
The executor listed in the deceased’s will is the only individual eligible to apply for probate to administer their estate. If you are the executor but don’t want to handle the estate administration yourself, then hiring a solicitor to do it for you is often the best solution.
If someone dies without a will, they are referred to as ‘intestate’. The intestacy rules form the basis of who can apply for the grant of probate.
There is no doubt that having a professional firm of inheritance solicitors on your side will make the process easier, smoother and faster. Call us today if you have questions for our expert team of inheritance solicitors.