Contentious Probate

When there is a dispute involving inheritance, such as over the validity or fairness of a Will or how probate is being handled, this is called Contentious Probate. These types of disputes can be complicated and, because they often involve close family members, there is a lot of potential for conflict and damage to key family relationships.

Having specialist legal advice from the outset can help you to minimise any conflict, while ensuring you are able to achieve a fair outcome for you and your loved ones. Our experienced solicitors provide a dedicated contentious probate service, with a strong track record of achieving the best available results for our clients under even the most difficult circumstances.

Our experienced Wills, Trusts and Probate Team provide sound and sympathetic assistance whilst also drawing upon the firm’s considerable knowledge and expertise in complex litigation matters.  These two areas of law combine in contentious probate matters.  Both areas of expertise can be found at Jobling Gowler Solicitors. We aim to help you achieve the right solution for you and your loved ones, protecting your inheritance rights while seeking to avoid negative fallout for your family.

If you are concerned about the validity or fairness of a Will or the suitability of the chosen Executor of Estate Administrator, we can take swift action to halt probate by helping you to ‘enter a caveat’ with the Probate Registry. This prevents probate from being granted and gives you time to investigate matters and seek a positive solution before the estate can be distributed.

For an initial free 30-minute appointment about making a contentious probate claim, please contact one of our specialist probate solicitors.

For more general information about a wide range of probate matters, please call 01625 614250 or email enquiries@jobling-gowler.co.uk

Our contentious probate expertise

Jobling Gowler’s Wills, Probate & Tax Department can assist you with the full range of contentious probate matters, helping you to achieve a positive outcome where you feel there is an issue with a Will or the way probate is being handled.

Inheritance Act claims

If you believe that the Will did not make sufficient provision for you, you may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This can also be an option if the deceased failed to leave a Will and the estate is being administered according to the intestacy rules.

To make an Inheritance Act claim, you will generally need to be a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of the deceased, their child who is still in education or someone who is financially reliant on the deceased. Exactly what you are entitled to claim will depend on the situation, but the intention is to replace any financial or other practical support you would normally have received from the deceased.

You will normally need to bring an Inheritance Act claim within 6 months of Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration being granted, although claims outside this time limit may sometimes be allowed under exceptional circumstances.

Contesting a Will

There are various grounds for contesting a Will, including where you have concerns about:

  • The mental capacity of the person making the Will
  • Allegations of undue influence
  • Invalid procedure or fraud
  • Negligent drafting of the Will or other professional negligence claims

If a Will is found not to be valid, the court may modify the Will, an earlier Will may be sometimes be used or the estate may be dealt with through the intestacy rules.

How long you have to contest a Will depends on the circumstances, but it is usually easier to make a challenge before probate has been granted. It is worth noting that there is no time limit to contest a Will if you believe the Will used was fraudulent.

Executor & estate administration disputes

If you have concerns about how probate is being handled, you may be able to have the Executor or Administrator removed. In such cases, they will often be replaced with a professional, such as a solicitor, helping to ensure there are no further issues.

Situations where you may be able to have the Executor or Administrator removed include:

  • If they are spending estate monies inappropriately
  • Where probate is not moving forward at a reasonable pace
  • Where there have been unreasonable delays in bequests being distributed
  • If the Executor/Administrator is unable to produce appropriate accounts on request

You will generally have 6 years to bring a claim in relation to how the Executor or Administration handled probate, dated from the time any specific issues with their conduct occurred.

We can also advise you on various related types of disputes, including:

  • Disputed Powers of Attorney
  • Disputes involving Trustees

How we help you avoid conflict when dealing with contentious probate claims

There are two main reasons people generally wish to avoid unnecessary conflict when dealing with contentious probate. Firstly, because if the matter ends up in court, this will usually mean things take a lot longer and cost a lot more to resolve. Secondly, because the disputes involved are often between close family members who want to try to preserve a positive relationship wherever possible.

For both of these reasons, we aim to resolve contentious probate matters out of court wherever possible, using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation. The costs of mediation and other types of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) are generally lower than if the matter proceeds to a fully contested trial, helping to ensure that the estate monies are not spent largely on legal costs.

Mediation for contentious probate

Our contentious probate lawyers have experience of successfully mediating inheritance claims. This approach involves a trained mediator acting as a neutral third-party who can facilitate discussions between the parties involved in the dispute in a positive way.

Mediation can offer the parties an opportunity of fully airing their grievances without destroying family relationships and avoiding the need for lengthy proceedings. It is often the fastest and least expensive way to resolve even the most complex probate disputes.

Our contentious probate fees

The cost of dealing with contentious matters will vary depending on the circumstances, but we understand that this is an important factor for most people considering taking action. We therefore aim to provide complete transparency about our pricing so you can make an informed decision about how to move forward.

We offer a free initial 30-minute appointment to discuss your case, at which we will clearly explain our fees and the other costs associated with contentious probate matters, helping to give you a full understanding of the likely legal costs involved.

To arrange your free consultation and find out more about the cost of contentious probate, please get in touch.

Why choose our specialist contentious probate solicitors

Taking a calm and sensitive approach, we aim to help you find a positive outcome for your probate dispute that takes into account all of the complexities involved. Wherever possible we will seek to find a solution out of court, allowing you to resolve the matter faster, while minimising conflict and any negative fallout for important personal relationships.

Jobling Gowler has been awarded the Law Society’s Lexcel accreditation in recognition of the excellence of our practice management and client care.

Start a contentious probate claim today

If you are concerned about someone not having left a Will or you have concerns about the contents of a Will or how the probate is being handled, please contact one of our specialist contentious probate solicitors today to arrange an initial free 30-minute consultation.

For general enquiries, please call 01625 614250 or email enquiries@jobling-gowler.co.uk

Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners