It is a good guess that most of us have a ‘Contentious Probate’ story. You know the one where a member of the family complains that they should have had a share of the estate because they cooked Sunday dinner four weeks in row last August! I have personal bitter experience of an aunt and uncle refusing to speak to me over the Will of her brother excluding her. This was years ago before I became a Willwriter, but apparently it was my fault! The fact we made a deed of variation to rebalance the distribution was accepted without words of thanks. Probate distribution does funny things to people. They can act so irrationally it beggars belief sometimes.
When someone contests probate, and they think have missed out it is important to try to reach a compromise between all parties. If this is not agreed, legal guidance is required. Quite often, the expense involved in taking legal action is far greater then the reward gained and lost through common sense. Nevertheless, points of principle usually drive people beyond seeing common sense.
Hay Tarn Wills refers cases of contentious probates to specialist lawyers, who with their vast experience in resolving disputes, can often save clients time and money before matters get out of hand.
If you have a problem with probate, let me know and I can introduce to the experts.
Of course, the dispute often refers back to the case notes made at the time of making the Will. I always ensure detailed notes are taken at all meetings and attached to each client file, which is kept for seven years after the client has died.
In addition, I have on rare occasions turned clients down if the reasons for making their Will are likely to result in a contentious claim by a dependent. This is usually because they make it obvious they are withholding important facts and information.
Everyone has a right to ‘testamentary disposition’, or the right to dispose of property under a Will, but it is also important that a good Willwriter ensures he has a full and detailed record of the reasons behind those decisions. If the Willwriter gets this right, the defence of a contentious probate has a good basis of fact on which to argue.