Once someone has made a will, it is often thought that it is set in stone, incapable of change, however inappropriate it might seem to those who only learn of its contents after the testator’s death. However, there are many steps which can then be taken which might relate to the validity of the will or the manner in which an estate is to be distributed.
For example, the circumstances in which a will was made can be thoroughly investigated in order to determine whether the deceased had the requisite mental capacity, that they had full knowledge of the contents of and approved the will or had been subjected to duress or undue influence in making it. It is also possible for those who have not received from the estate sums which fairly reflect what they might have reasonably expected to review the manner in which it is to be distributed and, if their case fits the relevant criteria, to apply to the court for an order which effectively overrides the testator’s stated wishes.
Another difficult area is the administration of the financial affairs of individuals who have lost the capacity to deal with them themselves. These situations are often managed through the use of enduring or lasting powers of attorney (known as EPAs and LPAs) or through deputies appointed by the court but disputes can arise between family members and attorneys/deputies which require careful and sensitive handling by experienced professionals with excellent negotiating skills. Issues also arise with regard to the administration of trusts, with applications to the court required for the approval or determination of issues which cannot be resolved by other means.
At Mundays we have a wealth of experience in dealing with such issues, having acted on a wide range of disputes over many years for executors, beneficiaries and trustees. In such matters, it is essential that we operate on the basis of a clear and empathetic understanding of our client’s concerns, coupled with specialist knowledge of the relevant law and practice. This helps us to advise them towards achieving a satisfactory outcome in the most cost-effective manner, while at the same time doing what we can to assist the parties to preserve or restore relationships which might well have been fractured as a result of the underlying dispute.
Our areas of practice include: