Contentious probate refers to a dispute over someone’s estate after their death. With emotions running high after the loss of a loved one, it is not uncommon for misunderstandings and disagreements to arise.
It is often the case that involving a contentious probate expert early on can help to resolve inheritance disputes quickly before the situation escalates. At Woolsey Morris & Kennedy, our contentious probate team have extensive experience in dealing with a range of conflicts over Wills and estates.
We are approachable and understanding and will advise and guide you through the dispute. Your case will be overseen by an experienced lawyer who will provide a single point of contact for any questions you may have. They will keep you updated as to progress and ensure that you understand the process and what is likely to happen next.
As well as legal expertise, we provide outstanding client care. We know how stressful it can be to deal with a dispute after someone has died and you will find us sensitive and considerate.
Our team have excellent dispute resolution and negotiation skills and we are usually able to resolve issues without the need for a court case.
Speak to one of our expert contentious probate solicitors now by calling 020 8300 9321 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our contentious probate services
We deal with a range of disputes that can arise during the administration of an estate, to include the following:
- Applications to remove an executor
- Defending claims made against an estate
- Bringing a claim against an estate
- Citations to accept or refuse probate
- Applications to issue and warn off caveats
- Subpoenas to produce Wills or testamentary documents
- Applications for an inventory
- Property disputes during estate administration
- Applications to the court for directions on an estate administration
Our approach to dispute resolution is non-confrontational and we always look to find a solution that does not involve litigation. This is generally a faster and more cost-effective way to resolve issues.
Contentious probate FAQs
What are the grounds for contesting a Will?
You may feel that the Will that the deceased left is not valid. There are a number of grounds on which a Will can be challenged, including the following:
- The deceased did not have the mental capacity to make a Will
- The Will was not properly executed in accordance with legal requirements
- The deceased did not have a full understanding of what was in the Will
- The deceased did not know the extent and value of their estate
- The deceased did not understand the consequences of leaving people out of their Will
- The deceased was unduly influenced by someone in the making of the Will
- Fraud or forgery has occurred
- The Will does not reflect the instructions given to the deceased’s solicitor
You may also be able to bring a claim against the deceased’s estate in some situations, including the following:
- Where you relied on the deceased for financial support but were not included in the Will
- The deceased made a promise to you which you relied upon to your detriment
- The deceased owed you money
If you suspect that there is something wrong with the Will or you have been left out of a Will when you believe you were entitled to receive something, you should seek legal advice. The requirements of producing a valid Will can be quite complicated, including the rules around the signing and witnessing of Wills, meaning mistakes can be made that make a Will invalid.
Can you stop probate?
If there is a dispute over the validity of a Will or over who is to be the deceased’s executor in charge of administering their estate, you may be able to stop probate from being granted.
This is done by entering a caveat at the Probate Registry, who will then advise you when probate is applied for so that you can lodge an objection. You will then have 14 days in which to take action. It is recommended that you see legal advice if you wish to stop a Grant of Probate from being issued.
What can you do if you believe the wrong Will is being used during probate?
If you believe that the Will being used in an application to the Probate Registry is not the correct Will, you can issue a caveat to delay the issue of probate. This will give you an opportunity to investigate whether there is another valid Will in existence and put together your evidence supporting this.
Can you make a claim against an estate where there was no Will?
If the deceased did not leave a Will, then their estate will be distributed in accordance with set rules known as the Rules of Intestacy. These leave the deceased’s assets to close family in strict order of priority.
Under the Rules of Intestacy, cohabitees and stepchildren do not receive anything. They may be able to bring a claim against the estate for reasonable financial provision if they relied on the deceased or had a reasonable expectation of inheriting from their estate. This extends to others who would miss out on an inheritance but who have similar needs or expectations.
Can you have the executor of an estate removed?
If you believe that the executor is not administering the estate correctly, it is possible to apply to the court to have them removed. It is generally preferable to try to resolve matters without the need for litigation first wherever possible.
It may be possible to agree with an executor that they will be replaced. It is often the case that the replacement executor will be a professional executor, generally an experienced probate solicitor.
If the executor does not wish to step down, then alternative dispute resolution may be helpful. A neutral mediator will work with both parties to try to find an acceptable solution.
What can you do if probate is taking too long?
The winding up of an estate can take a long time, particularly if the deceased owned a property that needs to be cleared and sold. There is no deadline in respect of completion of the administration, although interest on any Inheritance Tax due starts to be charged after six months of the date of death.
If you are a beneficiary of an estate and you believe that the finalisation of the deceased’s affairs is taking too long, you should initially speak to them to try to find out why. The administrative process can be complex and time-consuming and where asset holders are slow to respond it can be frustrating.
You should be kept updated on the progress of the administration and you can also ask for an account of the estate giving an outline of the amount you are likely to inherit. If you are not provided with this, you can ask the court to order that the executor provide an inventory and details of their dealings with the estate to date.
If the probate process is not proceeding and you believe the executor is not carrying out their role properly, you can apply to have them removed.
It is also possible to bring a claim against the estate if you suffer a loss because of the executor’s negligence or error.
Speak to our contentious probate solicitors in Sidcup, the London Borough of Bexley, Kent
To speak to our contentious probate lawyers, call us on 020 8300 9321 or email us at email@example.com.