When a Will is ambiguous, unfair or you believe it contains mistakes, these are serious problems that cannot be ignored and you should seek urgent legal advice.
At CWJ we understand that the dynamics involved in such disputes invariably require skilful and sensitive management. It is all too easy for parties to become entrenched in their positions, which can come at a huge financial and human cost. That is why we believe it is essential to obtain specialist advice as soon as the possibility of a dispute becomes apparent.
Whether you feel you wish to challenge the validity of a will or you feel you have been unfairly left out of a Will, not been adequately provided for, or you are acting as an executor and somebody else is contesting the Will, our specialist contentious probate solicitors can help. By becoming involved at an early stage and by giving tailored advice, we can offer practical solutions to defuse conflict. We offer commercial advice and aim to resolve matters by negotiation, mediation or other methods of alternative dispute resolution where appropriate and possible. However, when court proceedings cannot be avoided, we ensure that they are conducted professionally and as cost-effectively as possible.
Our contentious probate solicitors in Orpington advise beneficiaries, trustees, executors and or administrators or charities who find themselves involved in disputes or litigation when wills or probate arrangements are being challenged, no matter how complicated they seem. We have members of the Law Society Probate Section and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) on hand to assist.
Here are some common examples of how we can help:
- Will challenges: Lack of intention, capacity, execution, or knowledge and approval; undue influence; fraud/ forgery; revocation, construction.
- Trust Disputes: Advice to trustees regarding their duties, beneficiaries who have concerns about the actions of trustees and advice on the construction of trust deeds.
- Grant of Probate stage: preventing or facilitating Grants; resolving disputes between prospective Executors; obtaining limited Grants pending determination of disputes; subpoenas to establish existence/ content of wills; Application of the Intestacy Rules
- Claims against the Estate: Proprietary estoppel; constructive/ secret trusts; claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, if you have been left out of a will or defending a claim as an executor or beneficiary.
- Court of Protection: disputed EPA/ LPA registration applications; disputed Deputyship applications; disputes over conduct of financial affairs; removal/ replacement of Attorneys and Deputies.
Why choose CWJ?
We firmly believe that specialist legal issues require specialist solicitors. CWJ have years of experience in handling complex and demanding probate and Court of Protection disputes. We have a specialist team devoted to this practice area which boasts capabilities rarely seen outside of large London practices, at a fraction of the cost.
When a member of your close family, or loved one passes away it is obviously a distressing time. Sometimes this can be further exacerbated by a dispute arising in respect of the Estate of the deceased. Disputed probate matters can come in various guises and forms, whether it be a person disputing the validity of the will itself, some concerns over the appointment or conduct of a named Executor or in some cases a dispute arising when a person has been left nothing at all in the Will.
Each case is different and the options available to you will inevitably depend on the individual facts of each matter. However, we have set out some very brief case studies below which give an idea of the types of disputes which may arise.
- Left out of a parents/guardians will?
- Executors - disputes over what to do with the Estate
- Issues of capacity and/or sudden changes to a will
Frequently asked questions
What is contentious probate?
Contentious probate refers to any dispute that relates to an individual’s estate after they have died. Often, contentious probate claims arise under the accusation that the Will left by the deceased is not Valid, or that a dependent has not been provided for adequately, with the latter being a claim for “further provisions”.
There are multiple ways that Will can be challenged, such as that the person who created the Will was lacking mental capacity, did not have full disclosure or had not given approval of the contents of their Will or if there was undue influence. Fraud and forgery are also reasons to challenge a Will. Our contentious probate solicitors are experts in this field and have years of experience aiding clients in dispute Wills. We are also well versed in probate dispute resolution.
How easy is it to dispute a will?
Disputing a Will isn’t advisable unless you have a good reason due to it being a complex process. It is also important to note that even if the Will is decided to be invalid, the disputed estate will then be distributed according to the Court’s judgement, so there is no guarantee that you will receive anything.
If you believe you were not adequately provided for and wish to challenge a Will, you will need to be a financial dependent as well as one of the following: a child, spouse, civil partner, an ex-spouse who is yet to marry, or a cohabitating partner. There can be exceptions to this, but they are very rare.
On what grounds can you challenge a will?
There are many grounds for challenging a Will. For example: the person who created the Will was lacking mental capacity, the individual did not have knowledge of or approval of the contents of their Will or there was undue influence involved in the creation of the Will. Other reasons include if you believe that there was potential fraud or forgery involved in the creation of the Will.
How long does contentious probate take?
There is no easy answer to this question, as each case will have varying factors that will affect how long contentious probate will take. Contentious probate can take anywhere from a few months to years to settle, depending on the complexity of the case. However, in general, probate takes between 6 to 12 months.
Contentious probate tends to take longer due to there being disputes that need to be solved before the probate process can move forward, depending on how many disputes there are and their severity, this can have a large effect on the timeline of the probate process.
Can you challenge a trust in a will?
When a trust is created within a Will, traditionally it will outline how the individual’s assets should be managed and distributed according to the individual’s wishes. However, if a beneficiary feels that they have grounds to contest they can do so through the existing framework set out in the probate system.
Reasons for challenging a trust in a Will include suspected undue influence, lack of mental capacity during the creation of the Will, fraud or forgery, or a failure to meet the formal requirements for creating a trust. Before doing so, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced trust dispute solicitor who will be able to guide you through the process of challenging a trust in a Will, as it can be a complex process for an untrained individual.
Contact our contentious probate solicitors in Orpington today
For further information about wills, probate, trusts and power of attorney disputes, please contact our Orpington office or you can request a call back. Our contentious probate solicitors in Orpington will be happy to answer any initial questions you may have.