We win compensation claim against a solicitor for an inheritance claim mistake
If you have been the victim of an inheritance claim mistake by a solicitor and would like to know whether you are entitled to compensation, then contact our free legal helpline by calling 0333 888 0403 or sending brief details of your case to us at [email protected]
The inheritance claim mistake case was brought on behalf of a client who lived in Tonga with her three children. She married her husband, L, in the 1960s, but he later emigrated to the UK to find work. While over here, he met somebody else and, despite remaining married to our client and sending her money, he cohabited with the other woman and had two children with her.
L eventually died and in his Will he left everything to his two sons in the UK. As no provision had been made for his lawful wife, her daughter contacted a firm of solicitors in England to see if a claim could be brought by her mother under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. At that time, the terms of the Will were not known, so the solicitors filed a caveat with the Probate Registry. This seemed a rather unusual course of action, as a caveat prevents probate being granted and shouldn’t be used in an Inheritance Act claim. What the solicitors should have done is set up a ‘Standing Search’ at the Probate Registry so that they would be notified when the probate was granted, and the six month time limit to bring a claim under the Act had started.
Because a caveat had been lodged, L’s sons in the UK applied to have it removed, a legal procedure known as “warning off”. Our client’s solicitors had seven days in which to object to the ‘warning’, but they failed to tell her about the application until day six. They then gave her inaccurate advice about what needed to be done and failed to explain that it needed to be done by the next day. As a result of their inaction, the caveat was set aside. The solicitors were told that this had occurred and were later informed of the date that probate had been granted. They therefore knew that they clock was ticking for bringing her claim under the Inheritance Act, but unfortunately they did not tell her that.
A number of months later when our client thought that her caveat was about to expire, she wrote to her solicitors, asking them to extend the caveat. Bizarrely the solicitors agreed. However, they did not actually apply to extend the caveat; had they done so, they would have found that the Grant of Probate had already been issued and that there was very little time left for her to bring her inheritance claim.
Believing that her claim was protected, our client did nothing further until she heard that L’s house in the UK had been sold by his sons. Unfortunately, by this time the six month time limit was up and it was too late for her to bring her claim under the Inheritance Act.
Having lost her right to pursue her case our client contacted us to see what could be done about the inheritance claim mistake. It was immediately obvious to us that there had been a series of errors by her previous solicitors and we agreed to make a compensation claim against them, working on a no win, no fee basis. However, when we presented the claim to the solicitors, they were simply not prepared to accept that they had done anything wrong, even arguing that the caveat had been the most appropriate course of action in the first place!
We therefore pressed on with the legal claim until the solicitors eventually recognised they were at fault and settled the case on a very generous basis. The compensation we recovered represented the share of our client’s husband’s estate that she would have been able to claim had the inheritance claim mistake not been made. Our client was absolutely delighted with the result and the fact that justice had been done.
So, if you have lost out as a result of an inheritance claim mistake by a solicitor and want to know if you are entitled to compensation then contact our free legal helpline. Call 0333 888 0403 or send brief details of your case to us at [email protected]