Under normal proceedings in the event of the death of a family member or loved one, a Grant of Probate is issued to grant authority to distribute their estate in accordance with their wishes, stated in their Will.
In most cases, anyone who has an issue to raise with the will, does so before the Grant of Representation is issued, however, there are circumstances where concerns or problems are not noticed or able to be raised until after the Grant of Probate is issued. Once the Grant of Representation has been issued, the process can change for claimants and it is important to understand what this can mean in the event that you wish to contest a will after Grant of Representation.
What is a Grant of Representation?
A Grant of Representation, refers to the legal and financial process by which the property, money and possessions of the deceased are dealt with and distributed.
Depending on the circumstances, there are two ways in which a Grant of Representation can be granted, either as a Grant of Probate in the event that the deceased has left a valid will, or as a Grant of Representation in the event that no will or no valid will was left by the deceased.
Before the Executor or Administrator of an estate can transfer or begin to distribute the estate, they must apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Representation. Once obtained, the Executor or Administrator is then able to start selling/cashing-in the estate assets and later distribute the proceeds in accordance with the terms of the will.
Can you contest a will after Grant of Representation?
An individual who has a legal or valid interest in the estate of the deceased can contest a will at any time, even after Grant of Representation, however the process can be more complicated.
Ideally, claimants should register any contests against a will before the Grant of Representation is granted, as once assets have begun to be distributed it can be more challenging to reassess the will.
Regardless of how the Grant of Representation is issued, if you wish to contest a Will afterwards then it is important to act quickly.
How to contest a will after Grant of Representation
If you are considering contesting a will after Grant of Representation, here is a breakdown of what you can typically expect from proceedings.
- Contact a solicitor who specialises in will and estate disputes and management as soon as possible. Explain your situation to them and your reasons for contesting the will. Your solicitor can then discuss your available options and potential outcomes with you so you are aware of what is required of you in the process and what to expect.
- Collect all of the relevant documents and paperwork, including a copy of the will and the file of the Solicitor who prepared the same. It is important to be aware that executor’s do not have a legal requirement to disclose these to you, and if you face any concerns it is best to get your solicitor involved. You will also need a copy of the Grant of Representation.
- Identify your grounds for contest by consulting the will, the will file and Grant of Probate documents. This will help you to understand if you have a legal right to make a claim against the will, and the details of your claim. The most common reasons for contesting a will after Grant of Representation include;
- Suspected fraud,
- Questions over testamentary capacity of the deceased,
- Suspicion of undue influence in the creation or execution of the will,
- Belief of unfair exclusion under the premise that the deceased had financially provided for the claimant during their lifetime
- If you are able to lodge your claim before the Grant of Representation has been granted and no assets have been distributed, then your solicitor will be able to apply to register a Caveat to halt proceedings. If the distribution of assets has already begun, your solicitor can issue a letter of claim or threat of proceedings to halt the process of distribution until your claim has been resolved. In most cases, this will suffice to halt the process, however you can also issue an injunction to halt proceedings and help you to recover assets that have already been distributed.
- Depending on how each party chooses to deal with the claim, the case will then either be taken to court and settled there or through mediation or negotiation outside of court.
Risks of Contesting a Will after Grant of Representation
Contesting a will after Grant of Representation can present greater challenges and potential barriers than contesting before the Grant of Probate is issued. Being aware of the challenges that your claim might face can help you to prepare your case more effectively and understand how successful your claims could be. Some common difficulties to be aware of can include the following.
If you and your solicitor have chosen to issue a caveat to stop the Grant of Probate, you can risk court proceedings being issued against you. This is not the case if you interject proceedings after the Grant of Probate has been issued. In this case it would be entirely up to you as the claimant as to whether matters are taken to court.
After the Grant of Probate has been issued and the estate is being distributed, usually a letter of claim and threat of proceedings will be enough to halt the distribution process before your claim has been resolved. However, if this is not sufficient, you can seek an injunction to halt the proceedings and even in certain circumstances, recover estate money that has already been distributed until your case is resolved.
If you are contesting on the grounds of not being adequately financially provided for by the deceased, who maintained you during their lifetime, rather than contesting the validity of a will, you will not be able to enter a caveat under the Inheritance Act 1975. This means that the executor can still get permission to administer the estate.
Considering contesting a Will after Grant of Representation has been issued?
If you are considering contesting a will after Grant of Representation or are looking for some legal guidance on how to proceed with contesting a will or distribution of estate, our specialist solicitors can help. Our team offers a wealth of experience in dispute resolution and court proceedings for clients who wish to contest a will or distribution of estate, both before and after Grant of Representation.
We understand that there can be a great deal of financial uncertainty when pursuing claims against a will, particularly with the risks associated with pursuing claims after Grant of Representation. We will always provide you with detailed information on costs and funding options suitable to your circumstances.
To speak to one of our specialist solicitors, get in touch with us at our Canterbury, Maidstone, Tenterden or London office for more information.