Potential Claim against the Estate Probate Case Study
24 April 2018
An elderly woman named Mrs M died, leaving a legally valid Will. In the Will, she appointed her daughter (Mrs H, our client), her granddaughter (Miss H) and her grandson (Mr J) as Executors. Mrs H and her two children were also appointed as the trustees of the Will. Mrs M left her Residuary Estate to her daughter. She also gave her son in law, Mr K a life interest in the property that she owned as Tenants in Common with her daughter. Mrs M excluded her other daughter, Ms L from her Will altogether.
How We Helped
We were instructed by Mrs H to carry out the Probate on her late mother’s Estate. When we spoke to Mrs H, she informed us that she was unsure whether Ms L would bring a claim against the Estate. In this situation, we advised that it may be better to wait six months from when the Grant of Probate is issued before distributing any funds.
Our first priority was to address the risk of a claim being brought against the Estate by Ms L, and ensure that we were prepared for a claim if this came to be.
If Ms L had brought a successful claim and the Estate had already been distributed to the Beneficiaries, the money would then have needed to be recovered. Waiting 6 months would allow for any claim to be raised and dealt with before finalising the Estate administration.
Mrs H also informed us that Ms L had asked for a copy of Mrs M’s Will. Our advice was that as Ms L was not a named Beneficiary in the Will, there was no obligation to provide a copy of the Will to her. When the Grant of Probate was issued, Mrs M’s Will would become a public document and Ms L would be able to read the Will at that point. During the course of the administration of the Estate, we received correspondence from Ms L’s Solicitors requesting a copy of Mrs M’s Will on her behalf. Our response was the same as the advice that we had given to Mrs H.
Once the Grant of Probate had been issued, we were then in a position to transfer Mrs M’s property into the names of the trustees. We sought instruction from Mrs H, given the risk of a potential claim, who asked us to go ahead and transfer the property.
When the transfer of the property had been completed, we distributed the funds which formed part of the Residuary Estate to Mrs H. This enabled us to finalise the Estate administration on behalf of Mrs H. Mrs H was pleased with the outcome of what could have been a very stressful situation for her and her family.
“Thank you so much. Every day I reflect on the last year how easy everything has been getting through this process.” Mrs H.
Co-op Legal Services is the largest provider of Probate and Estate administration services in England and Wales, and is trusted to deal with over £1.3 billion in Estates annually.