We are highly respected legal practitioners in the complex and sensitive area of contentious probate.
Experienced and empathetic guidance on contentious probate
The range of support we provide includes the following:
- Acting for claimants, defendants and executors in proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
- Claims to challenge the validity of wills and codicils including issues of lack of testamentary capacity, want of knowledge and approval and undue influence
- Disputes between executors and trustees and advising on applications to remove and replace executors and trustees
- Advice on disputes in relation to enduring and lasting powers of attorney
- Advice on applications for court approval of decisions made by trustees
- Advising beneficiaries on their entitlement to information and accounts
- Rectification proceedings
- Contested deputyship applications
If you are contesting or defending a will, or considering doing so, speak to one of our contentious probate solicitors in St Albans, Harpenden or Luton as soon as possible for advice.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
A very solid team with several litigators who show good common sense in their client dealings with practical commercial advice given and clients kept well informed.
Working with the team has been professional from start to finish allowing us to make informed decisions through complex processes. The availability and “can do” attitude has enabled us to conduct our business and know we have the right people in our corner to enable good decision making and positive outcomes.
Immediate response and exemplary communication. A high level of client confidence is immediately provided – most reassuring at difficult times. A dependable strong team of skilled professionals.
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Frequently asked questions
What is contentious probate?
Contentious probate refers to a situation where there is a dispute over the validity or interpretation of a deceased person’s will or alternatively, where a will does not make provision for someone who thinks they ought to have been provided for.
How can contentious probate be resolved?
Contentious probate can be resolved through mediation, negotiation, or litigation. Mediation and negotiation involve parties working together to reach a mutually acceptable resolution, while litigation involves taking the matter to court to be decided by a judge.
How can I prevent contentious probate?
The best way to prevent contentious probate is to ensure that your will is clear, and properly executed. Work with an experienced solicitor to draft your will to ensure that instructions are properly recorded and who may also be able to ensure that proper capacity checks are undertaken and recorded. Identify anyone who maybe ‘disappointed’ and explain in your instructions why their gift is limited or why they have been excluded. Additionally, it can be helpful to communicate your intentions to your family.
Are there any alternative dispute resolution methods that could be used instead of going to court?
Negotiation and ADR such as mediation offer parties an opportunity to control the outcome of a dispute and to minimise the costs and delays to the administration of an estate.
What are the common reasons for contentious probate?
The most common reasons for contentious probate are that the last will (or the Intestacy Rules) does not make adequate, or any, provision for one or more persons who expected to receive an inheritance. The common challenges involve claims of lack of capacity, undue influence or coercion, accusations of forgery or fraud, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, and disagreements over the interpretation of the wording of a will.
Who can contest a will?
Generally, anyone who has a legitimate interest in the estate can contest a will. This potentially includes beneficiaries, family members, cohabitees, and other directly interested parties.
How long will the process take and what are the potential costs involved?
A probate claim will significantly delay the administration of any estate, potentially by months if not years if the dispute is litigated. The costs in such cases can be very significant indeed, particularly if issues of capacity are raised and expert evidence is required. Such costs may ultimately come out of the estate meaning there in less money to be distributed.
What happens if we are unable to reach a settlement or agreement?
If a negotiated or mediated settlement cannot be agreed then it may be necessary to litigate any claim through the court process.
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