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In the current litigation landscape, one particular area which stands out as being the instigator of claims, often regardless of merit, arise out of Estates of Deceased, the provision they have made in Wills or the lack of it and claims reliant on the provisions of the 1975 Inheritance Act and the subsequent amendments.

Great care should be taken in obtaining detailed and complete instructions from an individual, including their health (regardless of their age), current treatments if any (especially with the elderly), particularly where family members are excluded from the Will and particularly where significant changes are made to a previous Will, individuals falling in and out of favour.

Contemporaneous signed notes with comments as to what further enquiries were made as to medical treatments, if any, will be invaluable in defeating a claim by a disgruntled relative or dependent when the Testator is no longer around to explain his or her motives.

The reverse applies when dealing with an Applicant who feels they have been unjustly deprived of their rightful inheritance. Too broad brush approaches can be taken:

1) Proximity of relationship e.g. son, daughter, partner or otherwise;

2) To what extent that individual was dependant/”maintained” by the Deceased, regardless of any relationship.

Very few of these claims actually proceed to Court but are capable of settlement depending on the level of the Estate. The greater the evidence with a view to protecting the reasoning of a Testator, especially in the weeks or years running up to their death will be invaluable in reducing the potential value of any claim to the Estate even if it is paid out on a nuisance basis.

For further information and to find out if you are eligible to make a claim to dispute a will or if you need advice defending against a claim contact Jeremy Cook on 01924 431783 or email jeremy.cook@ramsdens.co.uk.