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Off-the-shelf wills may not stand up to the rigours of a court case, solicitor warns.

Cheap, off-the-shelf wills are becoming more popular but may not stand up to the rigours of a court case in the event of a complex dispute, a lawyer has warned.

Indeed, some matters relating to wills and probate are becoming so complex that they are even beyond the scope of non-specialist lawyers, according to Suzanne Lee of MFG Solicitors.

She warned that many off-the-shelf wills could fall apart under close scrutiny in contentious litigation cases, depriving the legitimate beneficiaries of their share of an estate.

Ms Lee has strongly advised anyone likely to be involved in contentious probate litigation - or wanting the administration of an estate to be watertight - to appoint a specialist lawyer.

"The probate lawyer you choose should be experienced in handling all aspects of probate law and contentious probate litigation," she said. "A list of client testimonials would also be a good indicator."

Ms Lee said the result of a will sometimes attracted claims of unfairness on the grounds that reasonable financial provision had not been made for everyone entitled to expect it.

In certain cases the law provided the chance of claiming against an estate even if there was no provision for the claimant under the will or the Intestacy Rules.

"Some people may be required to prove they were dependent on the deceased at the time of death, or living with him or her for two years immediately before the death. The court is empowered to make orders which effectively rewrite the will or the Intestacy Rules to ensure that reasonable financial provision is made," she added.

"Time limits are critical in family provision claims. If they are not made within the specified time the applicants may lose the right to pursue what would otherwise have been a justifiable claim." Disputes might occur over wills when there was opposition to the way the estate was being administered or over doubt as to whether the deceased had the capacity to make a will, or whether undue influence was exerted to bring about the will.

Other cases occurred where the meaning of clauses in a will were open to interpretation, bringing claims against solicitors for the negligent drafting.

"Executors and trustees may have to be pursued for the way the estate or trust has been administered," she said..
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 6, 2009
Words:381
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