Contentious Probate Claims
Contentious Probate Solicitors in Cheshire
Disputes after the passing of a loved one can be overwhelmingly stressful and complex. Let's work together to take the contentious out of probate.
Our team take the time to understand the underlying issues behind a dispute and act quickly to have the dispute resolved.
To find out if you have a contentious probate claim or to discuss defending a contentious probate claim made against you, contact our dedicated team of contentious probate solicitors today! Let's work together to take the contentious out of probate.
Speak to a contentious probate solicitor today
What is contentious probate?
Contentious probate refers to disputes regarding probate. This involves a challenge to the validity of a person’s Will or disagreements concerning the administration of the estate after death. Various issues can cause these disputes, for example Will interpretation, estate valuation, executor actions, or conflicts amongst beneficiaries. At Gavin Edmondson Solicitors, we recognise that families face exceptional challenges during this process and disagreements can occur.
We highly advise seeking advice at the earliest stage, whether you are defending or contesting a Will. Contentious probate cases are often complex and benefit from early intervention.
On top of helping you manage an estate as an executor or administrator, we can support you through any estate dispute. This includes whether you’re bringing or defending it. It’s usually best to resolve the issue outside of Court and this is what we aim to do. However, we also possess the expertise to represent you in Court, should the dispute advance.
How can contentious probate disputes arise?
Contentious probate disputes can arise for a variety of reasons, for example:
- Family conflicts or disagreements.
- Disagreements between executors and/or beneficiaries regarding estate administration.
- Uncertainty about the instructions in a loved one’s Will that require clarification.
- When there are mistakes in a loved one's Will.
- If there are concerns that the deceased lacked mental capacity when the Will was written.
- When the solicitor who drafted the Will has failed to take proper instruction.
- Unfulfilled promises made by the deceased during their lifetime that are not reflected in the Will.
- Disputes over the true ownership of property.
- If a person has died without a Will and there are disagreements regarding the administration of the estate.
- If there are concerns over there being an outside influence when the Will was written (undue influence).
This list is not exhaustive, but it is a selection of the most common disputes we see. The time limitations that the Court set for bringing forward a claim are extremely tight. It is essential to seek advice early.
How we can help to remove conflict from contentious probate?
We know that disputes over inheritance can be a tricky issue. Relationships amongst family members can become strained. Court proceedings for contentious probate usually intensify conflicts, on top of costing additional time and money. Our team works to avoid this wherever possible.
The good news is that Court actions are usually unnecessary to resolve these inheritance disputes. We will assist you in reaching a positive resolution, without the need to go to Court, if we can.
Time limits for contentious probate claims
The time limits for contesting a Will can be a challenge to navigate. These time limits will vary based on the grounds for your challenge, as well as the specific circumstances of the claim you are bringing. It is generally more straightforward to challenge a Will before probate has been granted and the estate distributed. If your basis for challenging the Will is due to fraud, there is no time limit for this.
If you’re considering making a claim against an executor handling probate, we advise that you initiate proceedings within 6 years of when you first suffered a financial loss. If you wish to enter a caveat, you must do so before obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.
The timeframe to bring an Inheritance Act 1975 claim is typically 6 months from the Grant of Probate or Letters of Adminstration being issued. If you still wish to make a claim after this time limit has passed, you will need to apply to the relevant Court for permission to start proceedings. However, there is no guarantee that this application will be granted.
How our team can help with contentious probate and inheritance disputes
- Challenge the validity of a Will
- Bring a claim against an estate for financial provision under the Inheritance Act 1975
- Defend a claim brought against the estate where you are a beneficiary or administrator
- Remove an executor or trustee
- Bring a claim for professional negligence
- Bring a claim for breach of trust
- Enforce a promise made to you by a deceased relative
- Enter or remove a caveat
Contentious Probate FAQs
You may be able to challenge the validity of a Will if you believe one or more of the following applies:
- The deceased lacked mental capacity at the time the Will was created, e.g. they were suffering from dementia.
- The Will lacks valid execution, e.g. it was not signed in the presence of an appropriate witness.
- The Will was created without the correct knowledge and approval of the deceased, e.g. someone else created it on their behalf and did not correctly inform the deceased of the Will’s content.
- The deceased was under ‘undue influence’ when creating the Will, e.g. they were pressured to favour certain parties to the detriment of others.
- The Will is fraudulent or forged.
Circumstances, where an executor might be considered to be neglecting their duty to the beneficiaries, include:
- Mishandling estate funds.
- If there are excessive delays between the granting of probate and the distribution of the estate to beneficiaries.
- If the executor appears to not be taking the necessary actions to advance the probate process.
- Failing to provide accounts when reasonably requested by concerned parties.
- Beneficiaries removing estate funds prior to or around the time of the death.
An Inheritance Act 1975 claim could be considered if no or insufficient provision has been made for you from an estate. If you have been excluded from a valid Will, or it has failed to make sufficient provision for you, you may consider an Inheritance Act claim. This could also be an option if there was no valid Will left by the deceased, or their estate is being dealt with through the rules of intestacy.
People who may have grounds to make an Inheritance Act claim include:
- The spouse or civil partner of the deceased.
- Someone who was cohabiting with the deceased.
- A child of the deceased who is still in education.
- Anyone dependent upon the deceased at the date of death.
If you wish to pursue an Inheritance Act claim, you need to demonstrate that the deceased failed to make ‘reasonable provision’ for you. The specific circumstances will decide what is considered reasonable provision, and may include covering expenses for your education and living, should you be a child of the deceased.
If you find yourself in a dispute surrounding a family member's estate or the execution of their Will, our solicitors will be able to assist you in bringing or defending a claim. We offer services around various issues. Just a few examples of these include interpreting and contesting Wills, removing executors for mismanagement and valuing an estate.
Whether you are interested in bringing or defending a contentious probate claim, our solicitors are here to help you. Just some of the services we can provide for you are filing caveats and representing you in alternative dispute resolutions. If we have tried these mediation methods and they prove unsuccessful, we will then represent you by arguing your case in Court.
Contentious probate covers any dispute that surrounds the administration of a Will, which includes contesting it. Some of the most common disputes we see include the valuation of the estate and the conduct of executors, as well as disputes between beneficiaries.
An absent Will is a difficult area of law that our solicitors can help you to navigate. We can represent your claim even if a Will was never made, lost, or verbal promises were never officially recorded.
Yes, we often see estates being mismanaged and are experienced in this area. We can help you to secure a Court order for the executor to step down and we will assist you in installing a replacement.
Some examples of the most common types of mismanagement from executors that we see are:
- Undervaluing property during sales
- Causing delays in administration
- Selling property before settling debts
- Retaining an asset for personal gain
Your contentious probate case will not necessarily go to Court. We understand that executing Wills is a sensitive topic, therefore our top priority is to settle cases using alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation. By doing this, we avoid the need to involve the Court. Our priority is to save you time, money, and perhaps most importantly stress. In the rare instances that these efforts prove unsuccessful and you wish to proceed with your claim, our experienced team can represent your interests in Court.
It depends on your dispute but in all cases, the sooner you act the better. To receive a grant of representation, you must act within 6 months.