Contentious Wills, Estates & Trusts
The death of a loved one, whether they are a friend or a relative, can be an emotional time for all involved.
In these circumstances it can come as a shock to discover that the Last Will and Testament of the deceased does not reflect what was expected or believed to be the case.
Contentious probate cases are often complex and this is why it’s important to seek legal advice that you can trust. We offer sympathetic, practical advice and support that aims to achieve the best outcome for all of our clients.
It can also be extremely upsetting to be faced with a claim by a third party, who are themselves unhappy with the content of the Deceased’s Will or the way it has been administered.
We can help you with:
Challenging a Will
Are you unhappy with how you have been remembered in the Will, or have you been left out of the Will entirely?
We’ll help you challenge the Will and put forward your case in the most persuasive way possible.
When Can You Challenge A Will?
- When there is a lack of legal formalities
A valid has to be in writing, signed by the Testator (that’s the person making the Will), and where the Testator’s signature has been witnessed by two others.
- Where there is a lack of testamentary capacity.
This is where the person making the Will lacks the requisite mental ability to make a Will.
- Lack of knowledge and approval
This is where the person making the Will did not know or did not approve of what was in the Will.
- Fraud or undue influence
This is where an imposter or a person has taken advantage of the power that they have over a person and used it to take control or influence them into making the Will.
- Subsequent revocation
This is where there is a later Will that has revoked the earlier one, or where the Testator married after making the Will.
- Proprietary estoppel
This is where a person failed to keep a promise or assurances that they made to you (which you relied upon to your detriment) to leave something for you in their Will.
- Constructive Trust
This is where a person tried to make a gift of property that does not belong to them because it has already been placed into a Trust.
The deceased owed you money.
- Lack of reasonable provision
The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 permits certain eligible people to make a claim for reasonable financial provision to be made for them from an Estate where no, or insufficient financial provision has been made for them by the deceased. There is a strict six-month time limit for making this claim.
Who Can Challenge?
- A beneficiary under a previous Will.
- Someone who would be entitled to benefit from the Estate via the Intestacy provisions.
- Someone who is owed money by the deceased.
- Someone that was promised or assured that they would be left something by the Deceased.
- Someone who may be able to make a claim for financial provision, or greater financial provision to be made under Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975.
If you’re concerned that the Executors aren’t dealing with the estate in a right and proper manner – maybe things are taking too long or they might be seeking to benefit from the situation – we can help.
Defending a challenge to a Will
If the Estate is subject to a challenge and you are either an Executor or a named beneficiary, we can help you respond to the challenge and protect the Estate and/or your legacy.
Steps that can be taken when an Executor fails to comply with their duties
If you have an interest in the Estate, you are a beneficiary or a creditor then prior to a Grant of Probate being issued you can make an application to seek to remove an Executor or, an entitled administrator before they have been formally confirmed in their office. In practice, this is known as passing over.
Once they are confirmed in office the personal representative can no longer be passed over. However, you may apply for an Order that unless the Executor provides an account in respect of the Estate that they will be removed as Executor, substituted that is replaced by a professional Executor.
It is often possible to get the Executor to comply with their duties by writing to them and inviting them to comply with their duty to administer and distribute the Estate in compliance with the testator’s wishes.
The 1975 Inheritance Act
If you are concerned that you are left at a financial disadvantage under the Will, then the Inheritance Act may be able to assist you. There is a time limit of 6 months from the date of Probate to pursue these claims and so it is very important to seek advice early.
Our Contentious Probate Process
- Meeting you
We start by meeting with you to understand what you are worried about, and what you would like to achieve.
- Informal mediation
Either face-to-face, or through correspondence, we’ll look to find a quick, agreeable resolution.
We can issue your claim in the County Court or High Court, or Defend a claim bought by another. We will represent you robustly and have built strong working relationships with Barristers who we can instruct to represent you in Court
- Ongoing negotiation
Right up to the 11th hour we will actively seek resolution outside of a Courtroom.
- Meeting you