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10 Wills and Probate

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1. Introduction

2. Why should I make a will?

3. What makes a will valid?

4. Who can be a witness?

5. What does an executor or administrator do?

6. What is probate?

7. Will I have to pay inheritance tax?

8. Who takes charge if there is no will?

9. Who gets the estate if there is no will?

10. What can I do if I think there is something wrong with the will?

11. What can I do if I think the will is unfair?

If you are unhappy because you have been left out of a will altogether or because you have been left without 'reasonable financial provision', you may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. But you can do this only if you are:

  • the husband, wife or civil partner of the person who has died;
  • the former husband or wife of the person who has died, if you have not remarried or given up your claim when you got divorced;
  • a partner who lived with the deceased for at least two years immediately before the death;
  • a child of the person who has died;
  • a person who was treated as a child of the family by the person who has died when they were married (normally, a stepchild); or
  • someone who was totally or partly maintained (supported financially) by the person who has died.

If you think you may be able to claim against the estate because you are in one of these groups, you should get legal advice. Claiming against an estate is complicated, and there is no guarantee that a court will agree with your claim. The result depends on the circumstances of the case. There are time limits and other conditions you need to know about. You must lodge your application within six months of probate or letters of administration being granted. You could face a large bill if the court refuses your application or does not decide that the costs should come out of the estate.

12. What if there isn´t enough money to pay for the funeral?

13. What if there isn´t enough money to pay the person´s debts?

14. Terms used in wills and probate matters

15. Further help

16. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Paul Elmhirst, a solicitor specialising in wills and probate.

Leaflet version: July 2007