Family Disputes

Family Disputes

Disputes regarding family matters can be extremely difficult to resolve particularly with regards to cohabitation and property ownership as well as disputes over inheritance.

Is your family in a dispute?

Cohabitation Disputes

If you are unmarried and live in a house with your partner what rights do you have if a sale is sought?

If the property is in joint names, even if you have made little contribution to its purchase or the mortgage or maintenance, you may be entitled to a half share.

If you have no legal or beneficial entitlement, that is you are not mentioned on the deeds or the mortgage but have been promised a share by your partner (especially if this is in writing) then you would be entitled to at least the amount your partner promised you providing there is evidence of this.

If you have contributed to the purchase of the property or the mortgage or maintenance or there is evidence of a direct financial contribution you may have a claim especially if you have done something to your detriment, that is have acted in a way that has imposed a burden upon you.

If you are parents of children under the age of 18 who are living in the property, and there is no alternative accommodation and you have decided to separate, it may be that one parent and the child or children may be permitted to occupy the property until the children are adults. In these special circumstances the other parent could be excluded from his, or her, own property.

Talk to our family department if you need help with a cohabitation agreement.

Inheritance Claims and Will Disputes

These are completely different but obviously both relate to what happens to a person’s estate after death.

Inheritance Claims

These can be made by somebody who ought to have been provided for by somebody’s estate. A claim can be made whether there is a Will, or not. The Court’s remedy is discretionary and therefore careful consideration has to be given to the merits and potential value of any claim, the value of the estate, conflicting claims against the estate and the likely costs of any proceedings. A successful claimant will have their costs paid out of the estate. We have acted for all kinds of different claimants as well as defending estates against such claims.

Will Disputes

Will disputes can relate to whether a Will has been effectively made or, in serious cases, whether it has been forged. Such cases are invariably complex and costly. Expert evidence, for example, medical evidence may be required, concerning the testator’s state of mind or a hand-writing ecpert may be needed to review evidence. Further evidence is likely to be required from people who knew the deceased and you may have to act quickly to obtain this.

We recognise that in such cases feelings run high and establishing the truth can become more important than the mere commercial outcome.

It is not unknown for a testator to show considerable favour to somebody who has been a companion or assistant to them in the closing stages of life. Such dispositions cannot easily be upset on the grounds of undue influence but each case must be examined carefully on its merits.

We have acted in cases involving allegations of forgery and investigated whether or not a marriage has actually taken place.

An unmarried partner of someone who dies without leaving a will has no right to that person’s estate. The same applies to a same sex partnership where the parties are co-habiting without the benefit of a 'Civil Partnership'. Nevertheless, such partners can be considered as having an entitlement to the deceased’s estate.

A dependant can also make a claim against a deceased’s estate. This will apply even if the deceased made a will but failed to consider the requirements of a dependant.

Alternatively, as a beneficiary under the terms of a will you may want to know more about your rights.

You may also be a beneficiary under a trust deed which can be very complex and you may be in dispute with other beneficiaries or with the trustees over the interpretation of a trust deed.

In some instances the validity of a will can be challenged. This can have significant consequences in terms of who will ultimately benefit.

We can help to identify what rights you have and help you to achieve a just resolution. If your objectives cannot be achieved through negotiation or other means of dispute resolution we can act for you in court proceedings.

Whatever your family dispute, contact our team to find out options and remedies to resolve your matter.

Family Disputes

See also

Facing a family dispute?

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