St Martin's House, 63 West Stockwell St. Colchester, CO1 1HE
Tel: 01206 577676, Fax: 01206 548704

The Chestnuts, 4 Stortford Road, Great Dunmow, Essex, CM6 1DA
Tel: 01371 873277, Fax: 01371 859232

Main Website:
Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm    Saturday 9am - 1pm

When someone passes away it is a difficult time for family, but things can become more complicated when a dispute arises as to how the person’s estate should be distributed. This may be under the terms of a Will or under the Rules of Intestacy if the person has died without making a valid Will.

It may be that there are concerns as to the circumstances in which the Will was completed, for example, the person did not have sufficient mental capacity to understand what they were signing or the person was coerced or placed under pressure to sign the Will. There may have been a mistake made as to the provisions in the Will. Alternatively, you may believe a later Will exists which has not been discovered and proper investigations have not been carried out.

If there are questions concerning the administration of the person’s estate, a caveat can be placed at the Probate Registry to stop a Grant of Probate being issued until further investigations have been carried out. This should only be done after having taken legal advice because it can have cost implications.

If the person has died without making a Will they are deemed intestate. The law sets out who can deal with the administration of the estate and who benefits from the deceased’s assets. A surviving spouse or civil partner is the principal beneficiary, but depending on the value of the estate, children may also be entitled to a share of the estate. If there is no surviving spouse or children, then other family members may benefit. The rules are very strict and they do not recognise a co-habitee as a beneficiary.

It is possible for certain persons, including co-habitees, to make a claim against the estate for financial provision. Specialist advice should be sought to determine whether such a claim is likely to succeed and the type of provision sought. There are time limits in which such claims can be brought and certain procedures must be followed.