Wills and estate admin can be contested on various grounds
1If a person doesn't provide for dependents, children incl adopted children ofall ages and a spouse (but not step children unless they have been treated asthe deceased's own childeren) in a will it can contested by making a claim under the THE INHERITANCE (PROVISIONFOR FAMILY AND DEPENDANTS) ACT 1975.
Details are here
2Undue influence if it is thought that the person making the will had been "gotat" when drafting the will.
3Or if, when drafting the will the person lacked mental capacity/didn't knowwhat he/she was doing
There are strict time limitsfor contesting will under 1 above of 6 months from death.
Claims under 2 or 3 above 12months.
Claims under 4, no time limit.
Promissory Estoppell. This is atechnical legal doctrine not used very often. It says that if anyone has beenpromised something during the lifetime of a person and they relied on that promise to theirdetriment then they are entitledto have whatever was promised. The classic case is indeed the young man on thefarm, who is told by the old man "don't go off to seek your fortune son, butstick with me and work on the farm and I will leave it to you when I die,".
So the young man doesn't go offto seek his fortune and stays and works on the farm and it turns out that whenthe old man dies he leaves everything in his estate to the prize cow, Daisy orhis new girlfriend, who is 30 years younger than he is. In that case, the youngman having given up a future (to his detriment) on the basis that one day (hewas promised) the farm would be his and he believed it and relied on it, he canget a court order that the farm is transferred to him. Such claims are notcheap or quick to bring in do require a large burden of proof of the promiseand reliance to detriment.
Anyone can get a copy of a willonce it has been admitted to probate from HM probate registry, upon the paymentof five pounds.Anyone can also hold up the granting of probate by entering a caveat at theprobate registry. At least, they will then find out if there is a will. Theentering of a caveat will certainly wake up any executors. Some explanatorydetails are here;http://www.anthonygold.co.uk/site/ang_articles/ang_articles_filing_a_caveat_first_step_in_contesting_a_willIfthere is no will the estate is distributed under terms of the rules ofintestacyhttp://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/relationships_e/relationships_death_and_wills_e/who_can_inherit_if_there_is_no_will___the_rules_of_intestacy.htm
You can register a standing search at the probate registry, whichmust be renewed every six months and it will tell you if anyone applies forprobate. When they do, you can then apply for a caveat.
If you are considering litigating the matter on any of the groundsabove, you can make an application to court for pre-action disclosure of thewill and you can ask the court to award costs against the executor.
The latter may not work and you may face costs.
Can I help further?
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I just need a bit more clarification on what you have replied. I have applied for a standing search on my father - he died in Feb 2013. Does the potential 'executor' need to ask for probate in a particular timescale from Feb 2013, when my father died?
I understand that once a 'grant of representation' has been given I could lodge a caveat but if the grant of representation has been given how much time do I have before the 'executor' can liquidise any assets?
If the executor liquidises the assets do they then have to wait a given period before they are distributed?
I want to see a copy of the will so I can see the date it was made and who benefits - my father died of dementia amonst other issues.
As to Pre-action disclosure - is this done so that the executor can't get to the point of liquidising any assets and do you have to follow through with a 'pre-action' if you register one or is this a route that could give me some time (once I have seen a copy of the will) to decide what I feel is appropriate - if anything? and which Court do you apply to - any or the district/city he died in? Although the overall situation for me is distressing, I need to gain closure in some form or another.
Thank you in advance for replying with further clarification to the above, it is much appreciated.
There is no statutory timescale for applying for probate.
The caveat holds up the grant. You need to apply for the caveat before thegrant is issued.
There is also no statutory timescale for liquidating the assets after agrant is issued.
Pre-action disclosure is done so that a person can see the will with a viewto contesting it. It isn't done just because they are being nosy or as afishing exercise. There has to be a reasonable prospect that there will belitigation.
An application in this case is made to the High Court.
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