Common Questions - Contesting a Will
For guidance we have collated a list of frequently asked questions and answers for you. Of course your solicitor will be more than happy to answer any complex questions you have specific to your situation.
Q. How do I find a copy of the Will?
When someone dies, their nearest family or friends normally look through their papers to find if they left a Will. Organised people tend to keep their Will with their bank statements or personal papers. Very often, they are stored at the family solicitor's office or at the Bank. This can greatly reduce the risk of a will being lost after it has been made. Check whether your solicitor charges for this service.
There is no central governmental Will register for Wills. This often surprises people. Relatives have to search to see if it has been stored at the person's house, and contact any solicitors that they know have been involved to see if one has been stored there.
In some cases they have to advertise the death by putting a notice in the London Gazette and contacting local solicitors to see if any have stored the Will. If a person moved around during their life, it may not be straightforward to locate a Will. There is a company called Certainty which charges £30 for their Will registration service. It is worth checking with them if you think a Will was made but still can't find it. Bear in mind, however, that registration with Certainty is not compulsory, so that a lack of a will on their register does not necessarily mean that there is no Will at all. If a Will cannot be found, we treat the person as having died without making one, which is called being intestate.
Q. What if you don't agree with the choices being made by an executor? Or what if the personal representatives haven't been collecting in the assets of the deceased person? Is there anything that you can do?
Yes – there are duties that personal representatives have to collect in the assets of the estate and to properly account for them. They may be in breach of their duties if they don't do that properly. They can be required to make an oath to court with a full inventory and account to the court. If you are concerned get in touch and we can talk through what steps you can take.
Q. What if the executors or personal representatives haven't allocated the money fairly or correctly?
If their negligence or lack of action has caused loss to an estate they will be open to a potential claim by a beneficiary of the estate. We can help with claims like this, contact us for more information.
Q. Is it possible to remove an executor?
Yes – it is possible to do this. Assuming that the executor doesn't agree to be removed, it will need an application to court and we can help by giving you advice and preparing all the paperwork for this.
Q. What if you don't think an Attorney is acting properly under a Power of Attorney?
The Court of Protection has the power to revoke a Power of Attorney, if it is satisfied that there is evidence that the Attorney cannot be trusted to act in the manner and for the purposes for which the Power of Attorney was conferred on him. Also if the Attorney is acting contrary to the person's interests in another context this might be enough to revoke the Attorneyship. If you are concerned about something that is happening under an Attorney's powers, get in touch for more information about the steps that can be taken. Remember, a Power of Attorney ceases the moment a person dies, so an Attorney or Deputy should hand matters over to the personal representative and not continue acting beyond death.
Q. What does intestacy mean?
This is where a person did not make a Will, or where their Will is invalid or fails for some reason. There are specific rules for who will inherit where there was no Will. These may not reflect what the deceased person wanted, or what their clear wishes were.
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If you have a legal query call Will Disputes and Contentious Probate solicitors who will talk you through your options and advise on the next steps.