Contentious probate case examples

Inheritance Dispute – Failure to provide for a child

When Rachel and her sister, Stacey, were growing up, their father Peter assured them that he had made a will that shared his estate equally between them. Following a family argument, Peter fell out with Rachel and refused to speak to her again. Rachel tried to make friends with her father, but he rejected her attempts. After Peter’s death, Rachel discovered that Peter had changed his will so that he only made provision for Stacey. This left Rachel in financial difficulties because ill health had prevented her from working. Rachel was able to bring a contentious probate case against Peter’s estate on a no win no fee basis. Following a mediation, Stacey agreed to pay some of the estate to Rachel.

Inheritance Dispute – Unintended failure to make provision

In her will, Doris divided her house equally between 3 of her daughters, including Elena, and provided her residuary estate (which was worth approximately one-third of the house’s value) to her last daughter, Frances. However, Doris sold the house before she died, but did not update her will. Applicable rules required the proceeds of sale to fall into the residuary estate, and so Frances inherited it all. This meant that Elena would not receive her intended share. Elena was able to bring a contentious probate claim against Doris’ estate on a no win no fee basis, and her lawyer negotiated a settlement that resulted in Elena receiving a share of the estate.

Contested Probate – Capacity to make a will

When she retired, Margaret made a will that left her estate to her 2 sons, Nathan and Oliver. Years later, Margaret started to suffer from serious dementia. She started to forget many things, and unfortunately was no longer able to recognise her 2 sons. Eventually, she was admitted to a nursing home. Whilst she was in the home, Margaret was encouraged to make a new will. She left her estate to a charity, because she had forgotten that she had 2 children and that she had previously made a will to benefit them. Nathan and Oliver were able to challenge the validity of Margaret’s last will on the basis that Margaret could not have understood what she was doing.

Challenge to a will – Breaking a promise of provision

Many years ago, Frederick struck a bargain with Gina. In return for Gina looking after him, cleaning his house, doing his shopping and cooking his meals for the rest of his life, Frederick promised to leave his entire estate to Gina. However, Frederick failed to make a will in those terms, and after his death, Gina discovered that she did not receive any provision at all. Gina was able to bring a claim to enforce the terms of the agreement to make sure that she received the promised benefit.

Inheritance Dispute – Failure to provide for a dependant

Susan and Thomas started a relationship together later in life. Thomas persuaded Susan to give up her job and move in with him. They enjoyed life together, and Thomas provided for Susan’s every need. However, Thomas died without making a will at all, because Susan was not married to him, Thomas’ assets passed to his children. They even required Susan to move out of the house. Susan was able to bring a contested probate case on a no win no fee basis, and her lawyer negotiated a deal with Thomas’ children which resulted in Susan receiving some provision from the estate.

Contested Probate – Undue influence

Norman’s first will provided his estate to his 3 children to share equally. After Norman suffered a stroke, his daughter Julie threatened that she would not visit him or assist him unless he changed his will to benefit her completely. Against his wishes, Norman changed his will. His remaining 2 children were able to prove what Julie had done, and as a consequence, Norman’s last will was held to be invalid and his original will was upheld.

Challenge to a will – Breaking a promise to another

After Jennifer divorced her husband, she started a relationship with Karl. They subsequently married, and they combined their financial resources. Jennifer and Karl wanted to leave their estates to one another, but wanted to ensure that their own children were provided for after they had both died. Jennifer was aware that Karl had little affection for her son, Luke. Jennifer was worried that Karl might omit to make provision for Luke after she had died. Therefore, when they made their wills, Jennifer made Karl agree to make provision for Luke, and secured a promise from Karl that he would never change his will after Jennifer’s death. However, despite this promise, Karl changed his will so that both his and Jennifer’s assets were only provided to Karl’s children. Luke was able to bring a contentious probate case on a no win no fee basis and, following a mediation, Karl’s executors paid a share of the estate to Luke.

Inheritance Dispute – Failure to provide for partner

Alan and Brenda lived together, although they never married. Brenda was the breadwinner, as Alan was unable to work after developing serious depression. Unfortunately, Brenda developed early onset Alzheimer’s and died prematurely from her condition. She did not leave a will, and the laws of intestacy required her estate to be passed to her parents. Alan was unable to afford the rent on their home. Alan was able to bring a contentious probate case on a no win no fee basis, and successfully negotiated a deal whereby he received some provision from Brenda’s estate.

Contested Probate – A Forged Will

After Trevor died, his family were shocked to discover that he had supposedly made a will leaving his entire estate to just one of his children. His other children were adamant that, even on his deathbed, Trevor had assured them that he had made a will that benefitted them all. Trevor’s family were able to find evidence that the signature on the last will was a forgery. Thereafter, the forged will was overturned and Trevor’s estate was distributed in accordance with the terms of his original will.

Challenge to a will – breaking a promise.

When Lynn died, her son Michael received a share of Lynn’s home under the terms of Lynn’s will. However, Lynn’s husband (Michael’s father) Nicolas asked Michael to allow him to live in the house for the rest of his life, in return for a promise that Michael would receive a bigger share of the house from Nicolas’ estate. Michael agreed and allowed Nicolas to live in the house. After Nicholas died, Michael discovered that Nicolas had broken his promise and had failed to make any provision for him at all. Nevertheless, Michael was able to bring a contentious probate case on a no win no fee basis in order to receive the value of Nicolas’ promise.

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If any of the above examples are similar to your situation, or if you feel you have other valid grounds on which to contest a will or probate, please contact us today via our Contact page or leave your details on the form opposite to arrange for us to contact you within 30 minutes.