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What do you do if you were left money in a will but never received it?

Our People - Andrew Guile
29 April, 2024

Receiving an inheritance can be the end of a complex process, and unfortunately, some beneficiaries find themselves in a situation where they haven’t received the money they were left in a will.

Are you concerned you haven’t received your inheritance?

What do you do if you haven’t received your inheritance following the death of a loved one? Firstly, you need to find out if there was a valid will and who were the appointed executors. If you know who the executor of a will is, then contact them and ask about your inheritance, they should answer you. Be aware that administering an estate can take months and even years. We have set out 5 key questions below to expand on the issues that you may be facing.

5 key questions for claiming your unreceived inheritance in the UK

If you were left money in a will but have not received it, here are 5 key questions you need to consider:

  1. How can I verify my inheritance?
  2. How can a solicitor help me receive my inheritance?
  3. How can I resolve the issue before probate?
  4. Can I contest the will or claim against the estate?
  5. What if you could not be located at the time?

1. How can I verify my inheritance?

The first step is to determine if there was a valid will. When a person dies leaving a will, the will normally names one or more executors to administer the estate. These executors have a legal duty to ensure you receive your inheritance if you’re named as a beneficiary.

You will also need to check that you are indeed named as a beneficiary in the will. You can request a copy of the will from the executor(s) or the probate registry (where a grant of probate has been applied for and granted) to confirm your entitlement. It is, sadly, quite common for executors (or solicitors acting on their behalf) to refuse to disclose a copy of the will.

If the person died without a will or if they had a will but the will was or is invalid, the intestacy rules will apply and you should consult those to check to see if you will inherit under them.

2. How can a solicitor help me receive my inheritance?

If you suspect foul play, have concerns about the will’s validity, or the executor refuses to provide a copy of the will or confirm your beneficiary status, seek legal advice from a solicitor specialising in probate.

A probate solicitor can also assist if you can’t access the will to verify your beneficiary status, such as when there’s no grant of probate or unresponsive executors.

3. How can I resolve the issue before probate?

If attempts to resolve the issue with the executor(s) fail, legal action might be necessary.  Our experienced probate solicitors have a proven track record of successfully engaging with uncommunicative executors.

In extreme cases, if the executor(s) is failing to fulfil their duties, an application can be made to the Probate Registry to remove them.

4. Can I contest the will or claim against the estate?

Yes, you have six months from the date of the grant of probate to contest the validity of a will or bring a claim against the estate. You will need to take legal advice on any options you may have in this regard.

5. What if you could not be located at the time?

Even if you weren’t reachable when the inheritance was being distributed, you may still be entitled to claim your share. The process differs depending on whether a will exists. It’s always best to seek legal advice in such situations.

In a nutshell:

  • With a will, you might have a claim against the executor(s) if your inheritance was spent or distributed elsewhere. The specific terms of the will play a significant role.
  • In intestacy cases, you might have a claim against the administrators. Additionally, administrators sometimes have insurance for situations where beneficiaries come forward after distribution. You may be able to claim under that insurance policy.

If you’re facing challenges claiming your inheritance, we recommend contacting a solicitor specialising in probate law. They can guide you through the legal process and ensure your rights as a beneficiary are protected.

Contact an experience probate solicitor

If you were left money in a will and would like any help or advice on claiming your unreceived inheritance, or have any issues relating to probate or the key stages of the probate process, please do not hesitate to contact one of specialist Probate Solicitors or get in touch on 020 8492 2290.

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