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Relatives Are Trying to Contest My Grandfather's Will

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  • Relatives Are Trying to Contest My Grandfather's Will

    Hey, I am based in England & I'm looking for some advice on this situation for either peace of mind or further clarification on what we can expect.

    We have been following the probate process for the last 6 months or so and have had some correspondence back asking for our cousins to confirm that they agree with the will. My Father has been open and honest about the will from the start and has shown them a copy. Initially one of my Cousins' (let's call him Jim) said that it was all fine but would need to speak to his brother (let's call him Neil), to make sure Neil was okay with this too.

    A week went by and my Dad didn't hear anything from either Neil or Jim, he got a call from his Solicitor saying that Neil had contacted them asking for another copy of the will as they couldn't read page 3 of the photocopy, this was strange as they would have normally contacted my Dad and asked him if they had any questions. Page 3 didn't show any details around what their entitlement was either, which is the only thing they should really need to look at.

    They have since had an explosive conversation with my Dad as they believe that they are entitled to 50% of the estate because their Mother died and she would have gotten 50%. They have been left 30% in the will as per my Grandad's wishes. The original will was lost by the Solicitors that were dealing with it but they signed an affidavit to say that the copy was the last will for my Grandfather.

    Neil and Jim's father signed along with his wife on the will and would know that it was correct and what my Grandad wanted.

    Jim & Neil's Solicitor has now contacted to say that they plan to contest the will's legitimacy & dispute the forms that have been submitted to probate. This is all getting very messy and we're obviously disgusted by the whole situation.

    What are the next steps? And how likely is it that the will can be successfully contested considering that there is a signed affidavit from the lawyer and the will was signed by Neil & Jim's father as shown by the copy?
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  • #2
    Very sorry to hear about the passing of your grandfather and the family dispute regarding his will.
    Are you able to answer the following questions?
    Who is or are the executor(s) in the will?
    Who are the 2 witnesses that signed the will?
    Who made the probate application?
    What is the approximate net value of the estate?
    Is your father due to inherit 70% of the estate under the terms of the will?

    You stated Neil and Jim's father and his wife signed the will. When did N & J's mother die?
    Was there an original will in which N &J's mother was due to inherit 50% of the estate?

    Was it your father that kept a copy of the will? It would be strange if the solicitor lost the original but kept a copy.


    • #3
      Hey Pezza,

      thanks for your condolences.

      1 - The sole executor in the will is my father
      2 - The two witnesses of the will are N&J's father and his partner
      3 - My Father made the probate application (with my assistance)
      4 - Approx net value is £650k
      5 - Yes it's in the will that he will inherit 70% and they will inherit the other 30%

      N&J's mother died approx 10 years ago, there have been a few wills since their mother's death all of which have my father receiving 70%, they changed the will about a year or two prior as it had in there that all of the grandkids would inherit 10k each, he gave us that money a couple of years ago instead because he thought we could do with the money at that time rather than waiting and took it out of the will during the last version.

      The solicitor actually had the copy, apparently they keep a copy of all of the wills and also a digital copy but somehow lost the original. A staff member was working on my grandad's will but left the company during lockdown, they searched for the original will but could not find it.


      • #4
        Thanks for the info.
        As the Probate Registry have asked if your cousins are happy with the will they are clearly concerned about something in the application. Possibly the drafting of the will, one witness is a relative and has an interest in the will, the solicitor's affidavit.

        Your cousins intend to dispute the probate application and the will with the help of a solicitor and may have already lodged a caveat at the registry. The executor cannot administer the estate until the caveat is removed. The caveat lasts for 6 months and can be renewed.

        The probate registry will wait to see if the parties in dispute can reach an agreement. Failure to reach an agreement can result in significant legal fees.

        If an agreement cannot be reached, but both parties accept the will was invalid, then the rules of intestacy should be applied. Under these rules your cousins should receive 25% each of the estate (after IHT)

        If the copy will is found to be invalid because of something the solicitor did, then your father having lost out on 20% of the estate, may have a claim against the solicitor for professional negligence.


        • #5
          Thanks Pezza, this helps fill in some gaps for me.

          I should’ve mentioned in the original post that they have raised a caveat with probate, which is what the solicitor told us yesterday.

          I struggle to see how they could successfully overturn the will as we have the copy and it was witnessed and signed by N&J’s Father I don’t imagine he’s going to be on our side here though, even though he knows it to be the correct will.

          I don’t think my Dad will be reaching an agreement here as he has said he would rather lose all of the money than give them 50% because of the way they have gone about this.

          If my father does lose to 20% then suing the solicitor has been mentioned as they have made a few large errors up to this point but we’re slightly cautious about this as we image they’d be able to drag the case out which would mean we’d incur a lot of legal fees again.


          • #6
            It sounds suspicious that the solicitor working on the will left the company at the same time the original will disappeared. Could he or she have found a serious error in it?
            Probably best now to wait to receive their solicitor's claim. You could post up the claim with names and addresses redacted and ask for advice. If your Dad is serious about contesting their claim he should seek legal advice from a solicitor that specialises in will disputes.


            • #7
              Hey Pezza,

              thanks for all your help. I may have not explained the situation with the lost will very well, the member of staff was working on the will during covid in 2021, she left in 2022 and my grandfather died in 2023, we asked the solicitor for the will and they stated that they couldn’t find it, we asked for the person who had been dealing with it but found out she’d left back in 2021.

              I will speak to my father and hopefully we can be successful with this matter.


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