When someone dies, they usually leave a Will and name someone as Executor. This is the person who is responsible for dealing with the deceased's estate.
If you are the Executor then you are responsible for collecting and preserving the estate, paying any debts and distributing the estate according to the Will.
If the person did not leave a Will then, as Administrator, you will act in a similar fashion as an Executor but you will distribute the estate in accordance with the intestacy rules.
You may also come up against people trying to make a claim against the estate if they say they were dependants of the deceased but were not named in the Will, are not in the intestacy list, or they believe that they have not received what they were entitled to. If this happens, there are things you can do if you believe the challenge is unwarranted.
You should try to settle the challenge but at the same time uphold the provisions of the Will. It is important to seek specialist legal advice from the first moment you hear of a challenge against the estate. If you fail to act correctly it could lead to legal action being taken against you.
A solicitor will be able to advise whether the challenge is soundly based and help you towards a favourable outcome. The solicitor you choose to help you should not have been involved in the drafting of the Will.
Your solicitor will be able to help you establish the reasons that the Will is valid and what it contains should stand. These reasons could include that:
- The Will has been executed properly and reflects the deceased's true wishes.
- The deceased had sufficient mental capacity at the time of writing the Will.
- You behaved appropriately and reasonably as Executor.
- You can prove who owns the property that is being challenged.
Where a claim for dependency is being made, your solicitor will help you assess whether the claim is genuine and how best to respond to any allegations that are made.
There are other things that will be looked at when defending a claim against an estate, but your Solicitor will be able to guide you through this.
Slater and Gordon Contentious Probate Solicitors can guide you through the process of defending a claim against an estate, whether you are the Executor or beneficiary.
Call us on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.