Contentious probate case examples

Inheritance Dispute – Failure to provide for a child

Growing up, Rebecca and her sister Stephanie always heard from their father Patrick that he had arranged for his assets to be shared equally between them in his will. However, a family disagreement led Patrick to stop talking to Rebecca, who tried to mend things and resolve their estrangement, but to no avail. When Patrick passed away, Rebecca discovered that he had changed his will to leave everything to Stephanie. This change put Rebecca in a tough financial spot since she could no longer work due to health issues. Determined, Rebecca took legal action against Patrick’s estate on a no win no fee basis. After some legal discussions and a successful mediation, Stephanie agreed to share some of the estate with Rebecca.

Inheritance Dispute – Unintended failure to make provision

In her will, Donna decided to split her house equally among three of her daughters, including Ellie, and left her remaining assets (valued at about one-third of the house) to her other daughter, Fiona. But Donna sold the house before passing away and didn’t update her will. Due to this, the sale money went to Fiona, leaving Ellie without her expected share. However, Ellie filed a contentious probate claim against Donna’s estate on a no win no fee basis, and with her lawyer’s help, negotiated a deal to receive a portion of the estate.

Challenge to a will – Testamentary incapacity (dementia)

Upon retirement, Martha drafted a will, bequeathing her estate to her two sons, Nick and Owen. As years elapsed, Martha began suffering from severe dementia, eventually failing to recognise her sons. Ultimately, she was admitted to a nursing home. Whilst there, Martha was encouraged to draft a new will, leaving her assets to a charity, having forgotten about her sons and her initial will favouring them. Nick and Owen challenged the validity of Martha’s latest will, asserting that her dementia prevented her from understanding her actions. With the help of a specialist solicitor, Martha’s latest will was made invalid and Nick and Owen were able to inherit under the terms of the previous will.

Challenge to a will – Breaking a promise of provision

Many years ago, Ferdinand entered into an agreement with Grace. In exchange for Grace providing care, housekeeping, shopping, and meal preparations for Ferdinand, Ferdinand pledged that he could not pay Grace now, but that he would bequeath his entire estate to Grace when he passed away. After Ferdinand passed, Grace found that there was no will that made any provision for her. Through a claim rooted in what we call ‘proprietary estoppel’, our solicitors were able to help Grace enforce the agreement and secure her well-deserved benefit.

Inheritance Dispute – Failure to provide for a dependant

Sarah and Timothy embarked on a relationship in their later years. Timothy already had children from a previous relationship. Timothy convinced Sarah to quit her job and live with him. Timothy paid for everything once Sarah moved in, but he never wrote a will. Upon Timothy’s passing, the lack of a will and their unmarried status led to his assets going to his children, who then asked Sarah to vacate the home. Sarah initiated a contested probate case on a No Win No Fee basis, under the Inheritance Act. With the help of our specialist solicitors, a settlement was reached with Timothy’s offspring, granting Sarah a portion of the estate, ensuring she wasn’t left homeless and destitute.

Contested Probate – Undue influence

Initially, Nelson’s will designated his estate to be equally divided among his three children. However, after Nelson suffered a severe stroke, his daughter Jenna exerted undue influence, threatening to forgo visits to Nelson’s home and refusing any assistance unless the will was altered to make her sole beneficiary. Reluctantly, Nelson amended his will, not wanting to be lonely and without his daughter’s help. Upon discovery, his other two children legally challenged this change, providing evidence of Jenna’s undue influence. Consequently, Nelson’s revised will was deemed invalid, reinstating the original will and ensuring an equitable distribution among all siblings.

Challenge to a will – Breaking a promise to another

After Jessica divorced her husband, she started a new relationship with Keith. They subsequently married, and they combined their financial resources. Jessica and Keith wanted to leave their estates to one another, but wanted to ensure that their own children were provided for after they had both died. Jessica was aware that Keith had little affection for her son, Liam. Jessica was worried that Keith might provide no provision for Liam after she had died. Therefore, when they made their wills, Jessica made Keith agree to make provision for Liam, and secured a mutual will promise from Keith that he would never change his will after Jessica’s death. However, despite this promise, Keith changed his will so that both his and Jessica’s assets were only provided to Keith’s children. Liam was able to bring a contentious probate case on a No Win No Fee basis and, following a mediation, Keith’s executors paid a share of the estate to Liam.

Inheritance Dispute – Failure to provide for partner

Alex and Belinda shared a life together despite never marrying. Belinda, being the breadwinner, supported the household financially by herself as Alex was unable to work and battled his severe depression. Tragically, Belinda succumbed early to Alzheimer’s. Without a will, intestacy laws redirected Belinda’s estate to her parents, leaving Alex financially stranded, unable to afford their home’s rent. Alex pursued a contested probate case on a No Win No Fee basis, and solicitors were able to contest this situation using the Inheritance Act. Through successful negotiations, a settlement was reached, granting Alex a portion of Belinda’s estate, alleviating his financial distress and giving him a lump sum for his maintenance.

Contested Probate – A Forged Will

Upon Terrence’s passing, his family was shocked to uncover a will giving his entire estate to his neighbour. The rest of Terrence’s children were firm that Terrence, even in his final hours, had confirmed a will that provided for all of his children equally. Seeking the help of handwriting analysis experts, they scrutinised the signature on the recent will, finding it inconsistent with Terrence’s previous signatures. However, handwriting analysis alone wasn’t sufficient to prove forgery. Additional evidence from the witnesses of the will solidified the forgery claim, leading to the false will being proved invalid. Subsequently, Terrence’s estate was rightfully distributed as per his original will, reinstating the equal share to all his children.

Challenge to a will – breaking a promise.

Upon Laura’s passing, her son Mitchell inherited a portion of Laura’s home as per her will. However, Laura’s husband (Mitchell’s father) Nathaniel, proposed Mitchell let him reside in the house for his lifetime, promising a larger share of the house from Nathaniel’s estate in return. Mitchell agreed, allowing Nathaniel to live there for the rest of his life. After Nathaniel died, Mitchell realised that his father had broken his promise as no provision was made for him. Mitchell pursued a contentious probate case on a No Win No Fee basis in order to realise the value of Nathaniel’s promise.

Challenge to a will – A promise to inherit a farm business.

For many years, Jamie worked tirelessly on Morgan’s farmland, without any remuneration. This was on the agreement that although Morgan could not afford to pay Jamie any money for now, Morgan had assured Jamie that in due time, the farm would be bequeathed to him, a promise that motivated Jamie’s dedication. Trusting Morgan’s word, Jamie invested his sweat and time, improving the farm’s productivity. However, upon Morgan’s demise, Jamie was appalled to discover that the will had no provision for him, contrary to Morgan’s assurances (and Jamie’s financial detriment) over the years. Feeling betrayed and deprived, Jamie decided to assert his rights by seeking the help of solicitors to make a claim based on proprietary estoppel to enforce the promise made by Morgan, seeking legal recognition of his rightful ownership to the farmland. Jamie was then able to inherit the farm business as he was promised.

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If any of the above examples are similar to your situation, or if you feel you have other valid grounds on which to contest a will or probate, please contact us today via our Contact page or leave your details on the form opposite to arrange for us to contact you within 30 minutes.