Inheritance laws differ quite a bit, depending on the jurisdiction. Inheritance laws within the same jurisdiction may also be applied differently, based on the specific circumstances of each different case. However, the reasons that most often lead to will and probate disputes are found to be very similar across all jurisdictions. Looking at some of them should provide readers with a better understanding here.
Absence of a Legally Valid Will
In the absence of a valid and verifiable will, the deceased will be classified as intestate and his/her estate will be distributed in accordance with the applicable laws of intestacy. This is where the legal disputes will start and continue indefinitely. Anyone who wishes to keep their family name and reputation out of the courts in their absence should consider making a will with the help of an experienced will and probate solicitor, as early as possible.
Most will and probate disputes could be avoided by simply creating a proper will that’s legally valid and can be verified beyond all doubt under legal scrutiny. You can update your will whenever you feel the need to do so, so it does not really matter how young you are at the time of creating the first draft.
On the other hand, the presence of a will guarantees the fact that nothing as sudden and unfortunate as an accidental death or a stroke can take your right to bequeath away from you. Contact a solicitor like P.A. Duffy & Co Solicitors for all the information and legal help you need to create, change, and/or update your will.
Contentious Probate Claims
Probate claims are often made if the deceased did not leave a valid will at all, which is precisely what has been explained in the point above. However, contentious probate claims are made where there is indeed a will, but one or more individuals are either left out of it, or they feel their allotted inheritance is inadequate.
That being said, there must be strong, legally valid reasoning to support such claims that seemingly go directly against the deceased’s last will. Claimants can invoke their probate rights by citing:
- The deceased owed them money (banks, credit card companies, money lenders, and other creditors).
- One or more beneficiaries of the will were responsible for directly or indirectly killing the testator (property owner) with an intention to do so.
- One or more beneficiaries of the will were involved in intentional instigation and/or participation in events that led to the testator’s death.
- The testator did not have the mental capacity necessary to be responsible for his/her own actions at the time when the will was last updated.
- There is forgery involved in the will presented (fake signature, altered statements, etc.)
- The deceased was coerced under duress to create and/or update the will presented.
Unclear Family Ties
Another common cause for probate and will disputes that arise from the absence of a will is unclear family ties. For example, illegitimate relationships and unverified adoptions are not considered by the intestate laws while distributing an intestate’s estate.
Note that they may very well be deserving of their respective probate claims, but the claim may not be acceptable to the court. If there is a will, however, such issues may not even arise in the first place.