I assume that you were still living together at
the date of death.
Wills and estate admin can be contested on various grounds
If a person doesn't provide for dependents, children incl adopted children of
all ages and a spouse (but not step children unless they have been treated as
the deceased's own children) in a will it can contested by making a claim under the THE INHERITANCE (PROVISION
FOR FAMILY AND DEPENDANTS) ACT 1975.
Details are here
Undue influence if it is thought that the person making the will had been "got
at" when drafting the will.
Or if, when drafting the will the person lacked mental capacity/didn't know
what he/she was doing
There are strict time limits
for contesting will under 1 above of 6 months from death.
Claims under 2 or 3 above 12
Claims under 4, no time limit.
Promissory Estoppell. This is a
technical legal doctrine not used very often. It says that if anyone has been
promised something during the lifetime of a person and they relied on that promise to their
detriment then they are entitled
to have whatever was promised. The classic case is indeed the young man on the
farm, who is told by the old man "don't go off to seek your fortune son, but
stick with me and work on the farm and I will leave it to you when I die,".
So the young man doesn't go off
to seek his fortune and stays and works on the farm and it turns out that when
the old man dies he leaves everything in his estate to the prize cow, Daisy or
his new girlfriend, who is 30 years younger than he is. In that case, the young
man having given up a future (to his detriment) on the basis that one day (he
was promised) the farm would be his and he believed it and relied on it, he can
get a court order that the farm is transferred to him. Such claims are not
cheap or quick to bring in do require a large burden of proof of the promise
and reliance to detriment.
Anyone can get a copy of a will
once it has been admitted to probate from HM probate registry, upon the payment
of five pounds.
Anyone can also hold up the granting of probate by entering a caveat at the
probate registry. At least, they will then find out if there is a will. The
entering of a caveat will certainly wake up any executors. Some explanatory
details are here;
there is no will the estate is distributed under terms of the rules of
A person can register a standing search at the probate registry,
which must be renewed every six months and it will tell them if anyone applies
for probate. When they do, they can then apply for a caveat.
If anyone is considering litigating the matter on any of the
grounds above, they can make an application to court for pre-action disclosure
of the will and can ask the court to award costs against the executor. If the
application fails, costs can be awarded against the applicant.
You can make a court application for pre-action
disclosure of the solicitor's file and it would be worthwhile putting the
solicitor on notice that this is going to be required although they are only
under a duty to keep files for six years and this might already have been
destroyed or passed to his executors, who can obviously destroy it or do what
they like with it.
I can see no reason why your late husband's
son-in-law wants to know this and I can see even less reason why he is entitled
to this information and I would not be giving it to him unless I hear from his
solicitors. A wonderful standard answer in cases like this is quite simply to
say to him that if his solicitors right to you, you will respond to them
appropriately. That way you are not saying that you will give him the
information and you are not saying that you will not. Once his solicitors right
to you (if indeed they do) you can then ask them exactly why they want the
information and make an informed decision based upon their reply.
Based upon the information you have given me, I
think you have a good chance of challenging the will certainly under the
Inheritance Act if nothing else. Because this is what appears to be a blatant
abuse of the Act I think that you may get a solicitor to deal with this on a no
win no fee basis but you will have to ring a few firms to find one. It is not a
do it yourself job.
Does that answer the question? Can I assist