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Ask James Mather Your Own Question
James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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My mother died a few years ago and my father died earlier this

Customer Question

My mother died a few years ago and my father died earlier this year. I am their only child. A previous family friend is saying that she had power of attorney and arranged my father's funeral. The last contact I had with her ended in her shouting 'they've left you nothing' and was very distressing so I haven't been in touch after that. There are a number of things that don't sit easy with me as to general circumstances and I want to see a copy of the will to ensure some peace of mind and closure. The solicitor who apparently drew up the will says she can't let me have a copy for confidentiality reasons, so I have applied to the Probate Office for a standing search which I understand will send me a copy of the will and who has been granted probate, when this is applied for and agreed. I have been waiting for a while and they have not acknowledged my request but I do know that the cheque has cleared my account.
Is what the solicitor said correct? She says she is a conveyancing solicitor but drew upthe will and the only contact I have for her is a telephone number as she was not willing to give me a postal address. Is there something/someone I can contact to speed it up. I just want to see a copy of the will to make sure that what this family friend is saying is the case, so I can close the book and move on.
Can you advise please?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

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 childeren) in a will it can contested by making a claim under the THE INHERITANCE (PROVISION

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
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

You can register a standing search at the probate registry, which
must be renewed every six months and it will tell you if anyone applies for
probate. When they do, you can then apply for a caveat.

If you are considering litigating the matter on any of the grounds
above, you can make an application to court for pre-action disclosure of the
will and you can ask the court to award costs against the executor.

The latter may not work and you may face costs.


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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

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.

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

There is no statutory timescale for applying for probate.

The caveat holds up the grant. You need to apply for the caveat before the
grant is issued.

There is also no statutory timescale for liquidating the assets after a
grant is issued.

Pre-action disclosure is done so that a person can see the will with a view
to contesting it. It isn't done just because they are being nosy or as a
fishing exercise. There has to be a reasonable prospect that there will be

An application in this case is made to the High Court.

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