Typical pre-action steps for a will dispute:
This is a brief outline of the likely pre-action steps your solicitor will take before issuing proceedings in respect of a claim against the validity of a will:
- An initial consultation is arranged and detailed instructions are taken from a client who suspects that the testator (person who made the will) lacked mental capacity, lacked knowledge and approval or was unduly influenced to make the will. The client is more than likely to instruct that;
- suspicions arose prior to death in respect of the potential defendant’s relationship with the testator;
- the defendant is likely to be a beneficiary and/or executor of the will;
- relations became fraught between the parties after the death which lead to the seeking of legal advice.
- A standing search application is usually made in order to reveal whether a grant of probate has been obtained. If no grant has been acquired consideration is given as to whether a caveat should be entered so as to prevent a grant being taken out. In most cases where there is a dispute over the validity of a will and a grant has not been obtained a caveat will be entered. The current court fee for a standing search is £6 and a caveat is £20;
- If the deceased owned property an office copy entry is obtained from the Land Registry to check who owns the property and to assess whether any kind of restriction is needed. It is often hard to obtain a restriction when a grant has been obtained by another party, most likely the defendant, as this will mean that claimant may not have the necessary legal standing to enter a restriction;
- A Larke & Nugus statement is requested from those who drafted the will. This is a request for a copy of the will file and a statement from the will drafter outlining their dealings with the deceased during the will drafting process;
- Medical records of the deceased are obtained if necessary;
- If we are not satisfied with the response from the above we can write a letter of claim setting out our client’s position;
- In some matters we would also suggest mediation take place prior to any formal proceedings taking place;
- If the matter has not settled after receiving the letter of response and/or mediation has taken place we will issue probate proceedings.
It is important to note that these types of matters are based on evidence. A claim can only progress successfully if we have good evidence.
If you are involved in a situation that sounds familiar, please do not hesitate to contact:
Katie de Swarte on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7201 3576 or;
Natasha McKeever on email@example.com or 020 7201 3577.