It is surprising how many executors totally misunderstand their role and think they can do exactly as they like – one bought a car out of the estate to travel to and from to the deceased’s home more easily, but many do far worse! (Click for our general page on Contentious Probate.)
Over here, it is not always possible for beneficiaries to see the Will until after probate has been granted. But prompt action is essential as otherwise the funds might disappear and not be recoverable. Over here, there is a theoretical limit of 6 months after the grant to raise a dispute, so it pays to keep an eye on the list of Probate Grants so you can act as soon as Probate approval is granted, and request a. If there is no will, have a look at the
Our advice is always if you have suspicions, ask for a copy of the Will, and hit that you will take it further if you don’t get one. Many executors will then comply (though they don’t have too!)
If that doesn’t work, we would ask a solicitor to write a letter requesting a copy, and gently pointing out the risk of enormously expensive probate disputes () which can leave everyone losing out badly.
If that doesn’t work, if you can gather any evidence of wrongdoing (or the intention of wrongdoing), then you may have a case for raising a dispute immediately, before probate is granted. But it is pointless raising a dispute without evidence, except as a negotiating tactic.
We don’t deal with contentious probate ourselves, but we do know some firms who are genuinely out to help and won’t charge excessive fees – unless you are so angry you push things too far, against advice, which does happen. Negotiated settlements often mean getting something rather than nothing.
But I would repeat the point that many executors do not understand the Wills they are administering, and given some help, would do the right thing, so don’t rush into legal action.