07 November 2013
Contested probate successfully settled at mediation
B P Collins LLP acted for a beneficiary in connection with a number of proprietary claims against the estate of her late long-term partner and a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975.
We were approached for advice at an early stage after tensions arose regarding the ownership of certain assets. There was an argument over whether a joint bank account was, indeed, a genuine joint asset and a further dispute over a foreign property and whether the Deceased's foreign (leaving his interest in the property to our client) will had been revoked by the English will.
The estate's assets included a property in the UK in the Deceased's sole name. Our client had contributed substantially to the property during her 20-year relationship with the Deceased. Nevertheless, the Deceased's will gave our client a right of occupation and nothing more.
All of this meant that the litigation arising out of the estate would be potentially complex, time consuming and very costly. The disputes about the ownership of assets alone could have taken months to resolve as part of a court process and that would only have been the beginning of the litigation; our client was also entitled to bring a claim against the estate as someone who lived with the Deceased for nearly 20 years as his wife and as someone who was being maintained by the Deceased immediately before his death.
Our objective was simple: to ensure that our client received what was rightfully hers, as quickly as possible and without involving the parties in a lengthy and costly court process, if at all possible.
We advised our client as to the various claims and we sent a Letter Before Claim to the executors, setting out our analysis of the law and the factual matrix surrounding the ownership disputes and the position in relation to the Inheritance Act claim.
Having set out a persuasive case in our pre-action correspondence, we then encouraged the executors to engage in mediation. We acted as mediation advocates on behalf of our client and, at the end of a full-day's negotiation, we achieved a global settlement for our client, dealing with all of the issues in dispute. The settlement resulted in a substantial capital payment to our client, who was very pleased with the result.