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Professional negligence in wills

When someone dies, their family will want to ensure that their will accurately records their wishes and properly provides for their family. If the will doesn’t properly record the deceased’s wishes, it can sometimes be as a result of professional negligence.    

WHAT IS PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE?

Professional negligence occurs when a professional fails to carry out their duties to the required standard of care.  Claims of professional negligence in wills can arise for a number of reasons.  For example:

  • The will does not accurately reflect the wishes of the deceased
  • The will writer took too long to prepare the will and the deceased passed away before it was executed
  • The will writer failed to advise the deceased to sever the joint tenancy in respect of a property jointly owned by the deceased and someone else under a joint tenancy
  • The will is not signed and witnessed in accordance with the Wills Act 1837 rendering it invalid
  • The will writer provided negligent legal or tax advice

PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE IN WILL DRAFTING

For a professional negligence claim, you will need to show that:

  • The professional owed a duty of care
  • That they breached that duty
  • That a loss was suffered as a result of that breach

It has been accepted by the courts that a professional drafting a will has a duty of care to both their client and to the disappointed beneficiaries of the will.

IS THERE A TIME LIMIT TO BRING A PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIM?

You generally have six years from the date of the negligent act or three years from the date that you realised the negligent act had occurred to issue court proceedings. There are however exceptions to this and if you are considering bringing a claim, we recommend you seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible.

HOW WE CAN HELP

Whether you need to dispute a will or defend your inheritance, our specialised Disputed Wills and Trusts Team will work with you to achieve the best result for you.    

Contact us on freephone 0800 0931336, or by email willdisputes@ashfords.co.uk for a no obligation chat to see how we can help.

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