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‘Seek advice’ warning where a will should be challenged

An expert has urged people to seek legal advice if they feel they aren’t adequately provided for after the death of a loved one.

The warning comes after a national case which saw a ballet dancer who gave up her career to care for her grandmother win a share of a £650,000 estate following a legal battle with a family member.

The grandmother’s Will was out of date and did not provide any inheritance for the granddaughter who cared for her in the last years of her life.

Nicola Turner, associate solicitor in the Contentious Probate team at regional law firm Napthens said changes to modern life mean it is increasingly common for such situations to arise, with competing interests and different sides of families involved.

Nicola, a specialist in contentious probate issues, said it’s vital to seek legal advice quickly as claims of this nature have very short and strict time limits.

She explained: “Cases are very fact-sensitive and the merits of any claim are different in each case, but the Inheritance Act enables a court to ensure that a claimant’s financial needs are met and to make an order to vary the distribution of the estate.

“The right result was obtained in this case, but is unfortunate and somewhat unusual that the defendant fought the case to trial.

“When a Will is challenged, the claim is often resolved without the need for it to end up at a court hearing – indeed, many are resolved with a settlement being agreed between the parties.

“People should not just accept the terms of a Will or intestacy if they feel they are not adequately provided for by their loved on in the way they expected, or if their loved one has died without a Will.

“In either case, advice should be sought from a specialist lawyer to ensure their case is assessed and presented in the best way possible.”

Nicola Turner - Litigation solicitor at Napthens Solicitors