Contentious Probate

When a loved one dies, it is usually a family member who will deal with their estate. This can often turn into a more complicated and costly process than you might expect – particularly if family disagreements erupt over the Will or distribution of assets.

Family fall outs often happen over inheritance. Where emotions are running high and when sensitive, personal and high value matters are involved, conflicts can become extremely difficult and costly to resolve.

Our contentious probate solicitors at Heringtons have wide experience and a proven track record of success in advising executors, administrators or beneficiaries involved in inheritance disputes over Wills, estates or the estate administration process.

Our Dispute Resolution team has expertise in all types of Will, probate and estate matters including:

  • Contested Wills
  • Inheritance Act Claims
  • Executor disputes
  • The use of caveats to stop probate

Whatever the nature of the dispute, our Wills & Estate Disputes lawyers can help you resolve your probate disagreement quickly and cost-effectively with simple straightforward advice that will allow you to reach agreeable terms.

We offer competitive rates and flexible funding options to meet your needs, ensuring all our clients can benefit from our high level of expertise.

Get in touch with our proactive contentious probate solicitors in East Sussex

For advice about resolving a probate dispute, contact your local Heringtons office in Battle, Bexhill on Sea, Eastbourne, Hastings or Rye.

Or fill in our online enquiry form and we will be in touch shortly.

Our contentious probate services

Contested Wills

A Will can be contested if you have concerns about its legitimacy or have reason to believe it does not reflect the deceased person’s wishes. 

You could have grounds for challenging a Will if you believe the person who was making the Will:

  • Did not know the Will was written
  • Did not have mental capacity at the time they made the Will
  • Was placed under pressure when making the Will
  • Did not know the contents of the Will
  • Did not have the Will witnessed properly

When challenging the validity of a Will, there needs to be good reasons for doing so. Whether you feel you have been unfairly treated, wrongfully left out of a Will, or are an executor dealing with a contested Will, our contentious probate solicitors can help.

Inheritance Act Claims

The Inheritance Act 1975 allows certain people such as a spouse, civil partner or children to claim financial provision from a deceased person’s estate.

You may be entitled to make an Inheritance Act claim if you feel you have been unfairly treated, left out of a Will or have been left in financial difficulty as a result of there being no Will.

Our contentious probate solicitors can help claimants achieve the maximum amount of provision through an Inheritance Act claim. We also have an excellent track record in defending Inheritance Act claims cost effectively.

Executor disputes

Disputes that occur during probate and the administration of an estate can become complex to resolve. Executor disputes can happen over issues such as the value of assets, the suitability of an executor or how an executor has behaved - including unreasonable behaviour or excessive costs and charges.

If you are an executor dealing with a probate dispute – whether you are making a claim in the interest of beneficiaries or defending a claim made against you - we can help with negotiations and solutions that will settle matters, promptly.

We are experienced in all aspects of executor disputes and claims and can advise you on matters concerning disputes between executors and beneficiaries, enabling you to take quick decisive action and allowing you to move forward and complete your duties.

The use of caveats to stop probate

The granting of probate can be frozen by beneficiaries or other interested parties of an estate where there is a dispute or issue that requires further investigation.

We can help you enter a caveat with the Probate Registry, which is a method of preventing a grant of probate from being taken out. This can give you more time to assess and consider whether there are sufficient grounds to oppose the probate application or bring an estate matter to court.

Using alternative dispute resolution for probate disputes

Bitter disputes that lead to lengthy and costly court battles are the last thing anybody needs during a time of family bereavement. That is why alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and mediation is widely recommended as a better way of reaching quick and cost-effective solutions for probate disputes.

Our contentious probate lawyers are skilled and experienced in the use of mediation and alternative dispute resolution. By adopting mediation as a way to resolve a dispute, you can be confident your matter will be handled objectively so a fair and positive settlement can be reached for all parties involved.

Court proceedings for inheritance disputes

Wherever possible, we will strive to resolve matters outside of court but where an amicable resolution is not practicable, it may be necessary to take your probate dispute to court.

Contentious probate cases are heard in a civil court where no jury is present. A judge will hear all the evidence presented before making a ruling on what they believe is the right decision.

For example, they might decide that:

  • The Will is valid and the executor can continue to administer the estate
  • The Will is valid even if the validity is questioned
  • The Will is invalid in favour of an earlier one
  • The Will is invalid and the rules of intestacy apply to the distribution of the estate
  • The executor should be removed and another appointed

Our team can help with preparing your case for court, ensuring you have the best representation possible so that the best result can be achieved for you in court.

Our contentious probate fees

We work with speed and efficiency so you can be confident your costs will always be kept to a minimum.

Competitive hourly rates and cost estimates can also be provided in the circumstances where ongoing advice and support will be needed, giving you the opportunity to calculate and consider how much your legal advice is going to be so you can plan and control your costs.

For some situations and matters, we can agree a fixed price. For example, drafting letters before action or representation for meetings with the other party.

Contentious probate FAQs

What are the grounds for contesting a Will?

A Will can be contested by spouses, children, partners or persons expressly mentioned in the Will on the following grounds:

  • Lack of mental capacity
  • Coercion
  • Lack of knowledge or approval
  • Forgery and fraud
  • Wills Act 1837

Can you stop probate?

Probate can be halted or frozen using a fairly simple process of entering a caveat at the Probate Registry which will stop probate being granted for six months. This can be done to provide adequate time to investigate issues or disputes further.

What can you do if probate is taking too long?

By working together as a family, you can keep the estate administration process moving smoothly. Ways to speed up the probate process include:

  • Good filing and organisation of your paperwork
  • Returning signed documents, quickly
  • Making quick payment of debts owed by the deceased
  • Obtaining valuations of the estate assets

Can you make a claim against an estate where there was no Will?

Where there is no Will and you are not happy with your inheritance, as a spouse, partner or child of the deceased, you may be able to make a claim on the estate under the Inheritance Act and rules of intestacy.

Can you have the executor of an estate removed?

If an executor agrees to be removed prior to the grant of probate, this is the relatively simple process of renunciation. However, after a grant of probate has been granted, the process for removing an executor becomes more difficult and will require an application to court. The court will be able to make an order for the termination of an appointed executor and an order for the appointment of a substitute.

Get in touch with our proactive contentious probate solicitors in East Sussex

For advice about resolving a probate dispute, contact your local Heringtons office in Battle, Bexhill on Sea, Eastbourne, Hastings or Rye.

Or fill in our online enquiry form and we will be in touch shortly.

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