A Warwickshire solicitor says people are potentially missing out on significant inheritances after being left out of wills they should have been included in.
Jagdeep Sander, head of dispute resolution at Leamington Spa-based Blythe Liggins, said members of the public could be unwittingly missing out on potentially huge sums of money when someone making a will hasn’t made reasonable financial provision for them.
People in this position could potentially make a contested probate claim, which is made against the estate of someone after they have died.
Jagdeep said that while issues around inheritance have grown massively in the last few years, many people aren’t aware of the legal routes they can pursue to claim back what they believe is rightfully theirs.
He said: “The nature of these claims are highly contentious; invariably emotional and always costly. Even though they are best avoided, sometimes there is no choice if an issue cannot be resolved without legal assistance.
“While the laws in England clearly state a person making a will has complete autonomy to decide who is to inherit from their estate, there are certain instances where a court will consider a contested probate claim.”
There are several different classes of people who could put forward a claim, including spouses, partners, children, and those that have been looked after or maintained by the deceased before their death.
Anyone who makes a claim will be required to submit several documents to the court including witness statements and financial documents.
Jagdeep said there are usually time limits for these types of claims, which is normally six months from the date of the grant of probate.
He added: “Often these claims are settled either by direct negotiations or through mediation. Our advice is that it is much more cost effective and faster to do this than going through to a full court trial.
“The outcome in these cases can vary massively and is always at the complete discretion of the courts. By reaching a sensible accord at an early stage, one can save considerable, time, costs, stress and relationships.”