Usually inheritance claims occur if there is a dispute over the terms of a Will, or its validity, or because a potential beneficiary believes they should have been included in the Will. If there is no Will at all the deceased is deemed to have died “intestate” and the clear rules of intestacy apply to distribution of their assets. It is possible for a Will to fail in part because a provision in it has become invalid – a “partial intestacy” then arises.
Occasionally there is doubt about the validity of the whole Will – there may be a suspicion that it has been changed, or that the signature has been forged. Alternatively, it may be suspected that the Will was created because of “undue influence”, leaving more to someone who previously may not have received much.
Another possibility which crops up occasionally is the suggestion that the person who signed the Will didn’t have legal capacity to sign it at the time.
Such disputes are often bitter, prolonged and very destructive because the dispute is usually between family members. The Chancery Division of the High Court deals with these disputes.
They are almost always very expensive, but there is not often any realistic chance of resolving the dispute without going to the Court. This is why it is so very important to ensure that Wills are correctly drafted and revised regularly.
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