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Litigation & Disputes

Contentious Probate & Will Disputes Solicitors

Contentious probate is a term used to describe any type of dispute related to how an individual’s estate is administered once they pass away. If you are facing this situation, our contentious probate solicitors can support you to contest probate or resolve a Will related dispute. We appreciate that it’s incredibly difficult to lose a loved one, and all the more so if there is some type of dispute or disagreement concerning the estate handling.

At Kingsfords Solicitors we are experts in contentious probates and Will dispute related matters. We appreciate how difficult it can be when you are faced with this situation, and pride ourselves on offering practical and sensitive support. Our expert solicitors can help with a range of probate and Will dispute matters, including:

  • Interpreting the contents of a Will
  • Determining the value of the assets
  • Claims for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act ) 1975
  • Establishing mismanagement of the estate
  • Resolving disputes between beneficiaries regarding the Will
  • Contested probate cases without a Will
  • Contested Wills for lack of testamentary capacity
  • Contested Wills where there is a suspicion of coercion or undue influence
  • Arguments in relation to formalities and execution of Wills
  • Court representation for Will dispute cases
  • Removing an executor where appropriate
  • Claims in proprietary estoppel
  • Disputed trusts
  • Cases of fraud

Speak to our contentious probate solicitors today

Speak to one of our contentious probate solicitors at our offices in Ashford, Cranbrook or Hythe today by calling 01233 624545 or fill in our enquiry form on the right hand side of the page to request a call back.

Our contentious probate & Will dispute expertise

Interpreting a Will

It’s not always easy to understand a Will, particularly if the document has not been adequately drafted. If you’re handling a Will that is unclear, or you think an error has been made, it’s imperative that you access legal support. Cases of disputed Wills can give rise to much tension between members of the family. Our expert Will dispute solicitors have plenty of expertise in such cases, and can support you to interpret a Will, and find a swift resolution to any issues.

Assessing the value of the assets

When a Will executor is handling an estate, part of their role is to determine the value of the deceased’s assets. It’s not uncommon for probate disputes to arise about the value of assets involved, and in this case, the involved parties will require legal advice to conclude the disagreement.

Estates can be incredibly complex, and it’s important that all assets are appropriately valued, as this will also reflect on inheritance tax. Our lawyers are trained to deal with all manner of disputes and can offer support to those who are defending themselves in a contentious probate case or pursuing a case against another party.

Handling mismanagement of the estate

Losing a loved one is an incredibly challenging time, and if you believe that a Will executor isn’t managing the estate correctly this can significantly add to the anxiety that you’re already experiencing.

The executor of the Will has a responsibility to collect the assets of the person who has passed away and arrange payments for any debts outstanding. They’ll also need to prepare accounts to cover the liabilities and assets that make up the estate and distribute the estate according to the deceased’s wishes.

If an involved party believes that the Will executor is not correctly performing their duties our specialist contested probate solicitors can support you to pursue a claim against them. Examples of a Will executor mismanaging the estate may include:

  • The executor is attempting to sell the deceased’s property at a price that is under the market value.
  • The Will executor is being reckless with estate funds, or dishonest about the funds available.
  • The executor is distributing funds to beneficiaries before settling debts on the estate.

Beneficiary disagreements

In the wake of a loved one’s death, it’s not uncommon for beneficiaries to disagree over the contents of a Will. When this happens, both parties will need independent legal support, to resolve the dispute, and move forward.

Our Will dispute solicitors offer a wide range of legal services, supporting beneficiaries to bring their disputes to an amicable resolution.

Contested probate cases with no Will

If your loved one has passed away without a Will, handling their estate can be all the more challenging. If an individual does not have a Will, their estate will be distributed under the rules of intestacy. In such probate disputes, we can support you if you are experiencing problems, including:

  • The deceased has a partner who they are not married to, and this partner has not been considered.
  • Disputes have arisen about who has the right to administer the estate.
  • The deceased has left children behind, and these children have not been properly provided for.

Court representation for contentious probate cases

Our specialist solicitors at Kingsfords will do all that we can to resolve your Will disputes without court proceedings. If the matter is too complex to resolve without a court hearing, we can offer guidance and support throughout the civil court case. During a court case the judge will listen to all available evidence and come to what they believe to be the most appropriate conclusion.

Our gifted and knowledgeable lawyers can support you to prepare for a civil hearing, assisting you to guide your contentious probate case toward the most favourable outcome.

Removing a Will executor

Our probate dispute solicitors can support you to remove a Will executor if that executor is not fulfilling their duties as they should be. If you have any concerns about how a Will executor is handling the estate, it’s advisable that you address these concerns right away.

If you are a Will executor and a beneficiary is challenging you about the handling of an estate, we can assist you to defend your position, and find an appropriate resolution.

  • Daniel Crook
      • Daniel Crook
      • Co-Managing Director, Head of Litigation and Solicitor
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  • Thomas Browne
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  • Leigh Prebble-Benn
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Frequently asked questions about Wills and probate disputes

What happens if a probate is contested?

When you contest probate, you may be able to enter a caveat which can stop the Will executor from disposing of estate assets and prevent the grant of probate. If you’d like to learn more about this legal option, our expert solicitors can provide all the advice you need.

If the Will dispute is related to a disagreement between the Will beneficiaries, our lawyers can offer initial support in the form of mediation meetings. If an agreeable solution cannot be reached using a mediation process, our solicitors can offer advice and representation throughout the next legal steps.

Contested probate claims can be very expensive and lengthy. Techniques such as medication can often be used at an early stage to reach settlement early before costs run away.

How long do you have to contest a probate?

The time frames on contested probates tend to vary depending on the type of claim, for instance, if an individual is seeking to make an inheritance act claim they will have 6 months to do so, starting from the date of the grant.

If instead, a party wishes to claim fraud, or to accuse an executor of appropriating the deceased’s assets, there is no given time frame.

Who pays the costs for a contested probate?

When contesting a Will or raising a Will dispute each person must cover their own fees. It is usual for each party to pay fees upfront at the start of a contentious probate case but in some cases where there is financial hardship, fees can be deferred. Once the case has come to an end, under some circumstances, the Court may later judge that one individual is liable for reimbursement. For more information about the associated fees, get in touch with our contentious probate solicitors.

What are the grounds for contesting a Will?

The key grounds for contesting a Will include:

  • The person who made the Will did not have the appropriate mental capacity required to do so.
  • The Will does not meet the correct formalities required, for instance, the Will was not correctly witnessed and signed.
  • The individual did not understand the meaning of the Will.
  • The individual was pressured to include certain content in the Will or make changes which they did not want.
  • The Will turns out to be false, for instance, a fake signature.
  • The document is unclear or does not reflect the person’s wishes.

What are the requirements for a valid Will?

To ensure that a Will is legally valid, the following conditions must be met:

  • The person writing the Will must be at least 18 years old.
  • The Will must be expressed in writing.
  • The individual must have the mental capacity to make the Will.
  • The document must be signed in front of 2 witnesses, and these 2 witnesses must also sign the document.

Get in touch with contentious probate solicitors

Speak to one of our contentious probate solicitors at any of our offices based in Ashford, Cranbrook or Hythe today by calling 01233 624545 or fill in our enquiry form on the right hand side of the page to request a call back.