Need to challenge a Will? Contested Probate & Estates in the Bahamas

Need to challenge a Will? Contested Probate & Estates in the Bahamas

Wills are increasingly giving rise to disputes between family members after the testator’s death, resulting in expensive litigation and, sadly, soured relationships.  The causes for contested probates are many, ranging from the alleged incapacity of the testator, errors in executing the Will and disputes over the ownership of property.

Whatever the background, litigation over wills is expensive, time consuming and emotionally painful for the parties concerned.  If you are considering legal action regarding a Will, it is important to take early expert legal advice from professionals well versed in the relevant law and experienced in litigation involving estates.  Our advocates at Parris Whittaker are experienced probate and litigation lawyers and we will give you the best advice on the merits of your claim.

We are adept at dealing with these matters both sensitively and strategically to bring these disputes to an early settlement where possible.  We set out the most common causes for Wills disputes:

  • The will was not properly drafted: the individual who drafted the Will may have been negligent, for instance, in not carefully following the testator’s instructions; or the Will does not properly reflect his or her wishes.
  • The testator was not mentally capable: a person seeking to make a will must be sufficiently mentally capable to make a will and know what they were doing at the time.  He or she must be of sound mind; able to identify the property and who would inherit it if there were no will, and be able to rationally plan for disposing of it in the will.  In addition, where there is evidence of fraud or forgery, the Will will be invalid.
  • Execution of the will was not carried out properly: there are strict legal rules governing how a will should be executed.  A will must be must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the will.  None of those witnesses, nor their spouses or civil partners, must be a beneficiary under the Will.
  • Disputed ownership of property: property may be left to a beneficiary but the legal ownership of the property may belong to a third party, whether in whole or in part.  Where, for instance, a family member contributed to the purchase price, the court sometimes has to decide whether the contribution was a gift or a loan before deciding whether the individual has a right to some of the estate.
  • Claims by dependants: where the Will does not sufficiently provide for a family member who was dependent on the testator, the law makes it possible to claim ‘reasonable financial provision’ from the estate.  These claims are commonly made by spouses, children or individuals treated as a close family member such as a disabled friend.

If your complaint falls within any of these categories, or if you think you have a valid legal claim concerning someone’s Will, we are best place to give you the advice you need to make an informed decision on the appropriate way forward.  For expert legal advice, consult the experienced and compassionate legal professionals at Parris Whittaker.  Contact us