Contentious probate disputes: TIMELINES

Claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, must be issued at Court within 6 months from the grant of probate or letters of administration. The court does have authority to grant an extension of time but this will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

Section 22 of the Limitation Act (1980) places a limit of 12 years on “any claim to the personal estate of a deceased person or to any share or interest in any such estate (whether under a will or on intestacy)” starting on the date on which the right to receive the share or interest accrued. So Section 22 applies when it has been established that a person has a share or interest in the estate, for example someone who is entitled to receive an interest from an estate and has not been paid.

For claims to dispute the validity of a will, whilst there is no statutory limitation period, the court can refuse claims that have been unduly delayed. It is important to note that once probate has been obtained and after the estate has been administered, it becomes very difficult to contest a will. Further, there are serious practical implications of delaying commencing a claim to contest a will. As time passes, the evidence that you will need to pursue your claim (such as solicitor’s files) could have been lost or destroyed and key witnesses may forget important details.  

In relation to breach of trust claims, the Limitation Act (1980) provides that such claims must be brought within 6 years of the breach. Some types of breach of trust cases may amount to a fraud in which case they may not have a time limit at all.

In all types of contentious probate disputes, it is important that legal advice is taken urgently in order that you case can be assessed and your interests can be protected.

If you are considering contesting a will or you would like advice regarding a contentious probate dispute, please contact us.

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