When James McMullan, Partner at RIAA Barker Gillette, and listed specialist in the Certainty Contentious Probate Hub & Area, was dealing with a Contentious Probate claim, one of the first steps that he suggested that they should take was to conduct a Certainty Will Search. This would help to find out if the deceased had written any later or earlier Wills that would indicate a pattern of gifting by the Testator and establish any intentions that they made have made. The below case study demonstrates how a Certainty Will Search was able to give their clients, the Executors, the confidence in moving forward in the case.
James McMullan, Partner at RIAA Barker Gillette explains: “We recently received instructions to act for a client in connection with a Contentious Probate claim. The deceased Testator had made a Will disinheriting her only child who had been estranged from her for something in excess of 20 years. Our clients, the Executors, were one of the main beneficiaries under this Will and a professional (solicitor). Not surprisingly, the child of the deceased Testator sought to challenge the Will on several grounds, albeit that many of the arguments advanced were quite weak.”
“One of the first things we advised should be done was to carry out a Certainty Will Search, to check whether there was any later Wills, or indeed any earlier Wills that would indicate a pattern of gifting by the Testator and thus show her clear intentions.”
“In this case, as it turned out, there was neither, but at least this gave the Executors the confidence to move forward in the firm knowledge that the Will made by the testator was the only one under consideration in the case. We also had the file of papers of the solicitor who took instructions and drafted the Will. We were then able to focus on the issues in the case, dealing with each of the discrete challenges to the Will, presenting the counter arguments and defences. Suffice to say that in a relatively short time (considering how long an average contested Will case can run) we managed to negotiate a settlement of the dispute on very favourable terms to our client, resulting in a very happy client.”