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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10974
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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My Father died in March, and left his part of his and his

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My Father died in March, and left his part of his and his wife's (my stepmother's) joint estate to be equally divided between myself, my sister and my sister-in-law, with the proviso that if his wife outlived him for more than fourteen days, then his part of the estae would pass to his wife. His wife died in June, and probate was granted on the 5th. of this month. Yesterday I rang the solicitor to find out how much I had been bequeathed, and was horrified to be told that I "was not named as a beneficiary".
My question is, therfore, do I have any grounds on which to claim some part of the estate?
Yous faithfully,
Nigel xxxxxxxxxxxx
1. Dear Nigel, you can potentially make a claim against your father's estate. However, you will need to do so quickly as there is a six month period within which this claim must be made. This six month period is measured from the date probate was taken out. So you still might be in time. The claim against your father's estate would be under the 1975 Inheritance (Rights of Dependents & Relatives) Act. Essentially, you would seek to make a claim based upon your having some dependency interest in your father and in his estate whereby he ought to have made provision for you in his will.
2. However, I regret to say that you will not be able to make a claim to your step mother's estate as you do not fall within the permissible category of dependents who may make a claim, as she was not your natural mother.
Buachaill and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
DearCustomerYou say I could 'potentially' make a claim. Could you, therefore, let me know how I would go about this, and the cost incurred for doing so.Yours faithfully,Nigel Stevens.
2. Nigel, I say "potentially" because you need to be within the six month time limit and it is not clear whether you are. Additionally, be aware that the court exercises a discretion in each individual case based on the extent to which you depended upon your father or he helped you out in your life. So, the reason I say "potentially" is that these things are not cast iron guarantees.3. The costs of instituting County Court proceedings would be a minimum of £5,000.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear Buchaill,You say that I have six months to claim from the time that probate was taken out: I take it this means the date that probate was initiated rather than the date on which probate was granted.
4. No, the date on which probate was granted is the key date. Not the date when it was initiated.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear Buichaill,That comes as a relief! My Father died on the 17th. of March, and Probate was granted on the 26th. of May 2015. The problem that I have would be the cost of instituting the County Court proceedings, as I don't have £5000. I take that this amount would be payable 'up front'.Yours sincerely,Nigel Stevens.
5. Dear Nigel, solicitors are business people. So if you can put a proposition to a solicitor that you will pay them a share of what you get in any legal action, they might agree to institute legal proceedings on your behalf. Alternatively, you should act as a personal litigant and issue the proceedings yourself. Here, you should get someone in your Citizens Advice Bureau to help you as well as possibly using the Bar's pro bono scheme.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear Buchaill,Are you implying that it woul be possible to go ahead with the proceedings on a 'no win no fee' basis or
what sort of percentage do you think would be a suitable bait to ensnare some poor legal bod?Nigel.
6. I cannot give you guidelines. However, if you cannot fund it yourself, then you have to consider alternatives. Probate actions are not usual contingency fee cases. However, you can only speak to a solicitor and find out.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear Buachiell,
I thought you might be interested in seeing my stepmother's Grant and Will which I have attached. The bit that interests me the most is her signature. I know that she had a leg amputated, and was, therefore, probably suffering the after-effects of a general anaesthetic, hence the shaky signature, but she always, to the best of my recollection, signed her name as 'S.M. Stevens', rather than 'Sheila Stevens'.
Do I detect, here, a whiff of something amiss, or am I being paranoid?
I look forward to seeing your thoughts on the latest twist in this sorry tale,
7. Dear Nigel, you would need a graphology expert to examine the will to see if it is the signature of Sheila Stevens. A comparison would have to be made with other instances when she signed her name. Be aware that very strong proof would be needed to set aside the will on the basis it is not her signature. There are other signatures appended here and in law, they had to witness the signature of Sheila Stevens. So any court declaration that it is not her signature will obviously impact professionally on these other witnesses. The will would also be invalid if it could be shown that these other two witnesses were not present when Sheila Stevens signed the will. So if you cast doubt upon her signature, these other witnesses might resile from their position that they witnessed her signature which would also invalidate the will.