The term ‘contentious probate’ refers to any dispute concerning how a person’s estate is administered after their death. If you feel a family member’s estate is not being managed properly, our experienced solicitors will help you to challenge the probate process.
How our contentious probate solicitors can help
Jan Atkinson and her team of specialist probate solicitors will help you to resolve disputes concerning:
- The value of assets within the estate
- The interpretation of the will
- Disagreements that may have arisen between beneficiaries
- Dealing with executors where you have concerns regarding mismanagement of the estate.
The interpretation of a Will
At Osbornes Law we regularly advise executors and beneficiaries on the contents of a will and provide assistance with making clear the terms and wishes detailed in it.
Contesting a Will
You may contest a will if certain grounds can be satisfied. Those grounds include:
1. The will is invalid because the person making it lacked capacity to make a will
2. The person making the will was unduly influenced by others
3. The person making the will did not understand the document being signed
4. The will does not make reasonable financial provision for a close family member or cohabitant
5. The will was not properly signed and witnessed by two witnesses all signing at the same time in each other’s presence.
Who has the legal right to contest a Will?
Not everyone can challenge a will. Only “interested persons” may challenge a will and they must have valid legal reasons to do so. “Interested persons” include children, heirs, spouses and guardians.
Expert advice on trust disputes
Our expert trust solicitors understand complex family trust arrangements and have helped many to resolve disputes to protect their wealth.
We are able to assist with:
• Concerns you may have regarding the administration of a trust
• Removal of trustees
• Court applications to vary the terms of a trust
Disputes can occur regarding the value of assets, the suitability of executors and other mismanagement matters. Our contentious probate lawyers are very experienced in dealing with a wide range of disputes including the removal and replacement of an executor who is not properly dealing with the estate in a competent and timely way.
Beneficiary disputes – when might a conflict arise?
When a family member or friend dies and you are confirmed as a beneficiary you may not be sure of the process and you may not know when you will receive your share of the estate.
Beneficiaries do have legal rights and if you run into problems our solicitors can help you deal with:
- Delays around grant of probate
- Administration delays once probate has been obtained
- Lack of information
- Failure to disclose accounts
- Concerns regarding the Executors’ ability to efficiently deal with the Estate.
Time limits for contentious probate
Claimants have six months from the date of the grant of probate to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants Act) 1975, as amended, if you fall into one of the specified categories of permitted applicants. It may be necessary to show that you were dependent on the deceased at the time of death. If such an application is successful, the Court can make a variety of orders which effectively rewrite the Will or the Intestacy Rules to ensure that reasonable financial provision is made for you.
Time limits are critical in family provision applications; if an application is not made within the specified time, you may lose the right to pursue what would otherwise have been a perfectly good claim. If you think you have a claim, you should obtain specialised legal advice right away.
How do I protect my will from being challenged?
We have provided a checklist below to assist you with protecting your will from being challenged.
- Be aware of the formalities for signing and witnessing wills
- Protect your estate
- Confirm your testamentary capacity with a doctor if you think your will might be challenged
- Destroy any previous will
- Keep your most recent will stored in a safe place
- Let your executors know where that is!
- Instruct a regulated professional to draft your will
For a free initial discussion regarding your Will or a dispute call 020 7485 8811 or complete our online enquiry form.