How delay can defeat a probate claim

Avoid the pitfalls of delay by contacting our a free contesting wills helpline for early expert guidance on your probate claim. You can contact our helpline by calling freephone 0333 888 0409 or sending an email to us at [email protected]

The courts have rejected a probate claim because of delay on the part of the claimant.

The probate claim had been commenced by the son of a deceased who alleged that a codicil to his father’s Will in favour of his stepmother was invalid. Among other things, the son said that the signature on the codicil was not his father’s, but his stepmother’s.

The codicil had been made in 2002. His father had died in 2010, with probate being granted in 2011. His stepmother had died herself in 2018.

The claimant initially instructed solicitors in 2013, but didn’t pursue a claim. In 2018 the claimant revisited the case and decided to take it further However his probate claim did not came to trial until 2023. By this time not only had his stepmother died, but before she passed she had made a new Will (partly in favour of the claimant’s own children) which had been admitted to probate.

The judge declared that the claimant’s delay in bringing his claim was unacceptable. He said that the ‘interests of justice had suffered’ because the delay had prejudiced the available evidence to support or rebut the son’s allegations. Accordingly the claim was dismissed.

This case underlines the dangers of delay when pursuing a probate claim. In particular the passage of time impacts the evidence that is available to the court, making it more difficult to prove the allegations that are being made.

The simple solution is to avoid delay by seeking expert guidance at an early stage. You can do do by making use of our free contesting-wills helpline service. Just give us a call on freephone 0333 888 0409 and speak to one of our experts. Alternatively you can send an email to us at [email protected]

How delay can defeat a probate claim