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Disputes over Wills, Trusts & Estates

The death of a loved one is immensely distressing for family and friends alike. This can be made worse by a dispute over the deceased’s Will, lack of a Will, or how their assets are to be distributed.

On this page:

    Contentious Probate – our services

    Our specialist team have experience in dealing with all manner of disputes including those in relation to:

    What is a dispute?

    There are a number of ways a dispute over a Will can arise, these include:

    • Testamentary incapacity – if the person making the Will is thought not to have capacity at the time of making the Will.
    • Undue influence – if the Will has been made under duress or coercion
    • Invalid execution of a Will – where the Executor under a Will is not acting properly in administering the estate, or someone is preventing the estate from being correctly administered.
    • Lack of knowledge and approval of the contents of a Will
    • Fraudulent Wills

    The distribution of the estate, be it through a Will or under the Rules of Intestacy in the absence of a Will, can also be challenged if a person feels they were not reasonably provided for from the estate. This is limited to certain categories of persons, such as spouses, civil partners, cohabitees, children and financial dependants of the deceased depending on the circumstances.

    How can our contentious probate solicitors help you?

    We always aim to achieve settlement out of court to save you time and costs on your dispute. Where this is not possible, we will guide you through the complicated litigation process from beginning to end. We also offer you specialist advice on the process and procedure involved and, uniquely, represent clients at court ourselves, where we can, to maintain consistency of care. Where this is not possible, we have close relationships with a number of barristers who we can instruct to represent you instead.

    Disputes over Wills, Trusts & Estates – frequently asked questions

    We often hear these different names, and it can be confusing.

    Executors are appointed in the deceased’s Will, and their authority to deal with the administration of the estate stems from the Will. Sometimes they need to apply for a Grant of Probate to confirm their authority to be able to deal with certain types of assets.

    If someone has died without a Will, they won’t have appointed an executor. Instead, someone will need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration, which gives that person(s) the authority to deal with the administration of the estate.  They are then known as administrators.

    Those who can apply mirror those who inherit under the rules of intestacy.

    Both executors and administrators can be referred to as ‘personal representatives’.

    There are many different types of Grants that can be issued by the Probate Registry, and it depends entirely on the circumstances of the Estate. For example, whether there is a Will, whether executors have been appointed, whether it is an intestacy, whether it is an intestacy with a beneficiary who is a minor – the list is (almost) endless.

    People (solicitors included) often use terms such as ‘Grant’ and ‘Probate’ interchangeably, which can add to the confusion.

    As a simple starting point, generally speaking executors can apply for a Grant of Probate and people who wish to be administrators can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

    Some Grants are limited and so it is important to read them carefully, so that you know what authority is actually being granted to the person named. If you are unsure about a Grant or the authority someone has been granted, and you are concerned that an estate is not being administered correctly as a result, contact our solicitors today.

    If someone has died without making a Will, the rules of intestacy determine who inherits from their estate. This is set out in section 46 Administration of Estates Act 1925, as amended by the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014.

    The size, nature and value of the estate together with the domicile of the deceased are all relevant when determining who inherits under the rules of intestacy. As a rule of thumb, the priority of those who can inherit is usually as follows:

    • surviving spouse / civil partner
    • surviving children / grandchildren if his/her/their parent has died
    • surviving parents
    • surviving siblings / nieces or nephews if his/her/their parent has died
    • surviving half-siblings / half-nieces or nephews if his/her/their parent has died
    • surviving grandparents
    • surviving aunts or uncles / cousins if his/her/their parent has died
    • surviving half-aunts or half-uncles / half-cousins if his/her/their parent has died
    • The Crown

    Our solicitors can consider the exact circumstances of your case and advise exactly how the rules of intestacy will apply to you.


    Your key contacts:
    Claire Martin
    Partner  Head of Private Client


    Prue Abrahams
    Senior Associate Private Client


    Amaya Huntly
    Senior Associate Private Client


    Samantha Fennah
    Associate  Private Client


    Clare Vaillant
    Trainee Private Client


    Jessica Wain
    Trainee Solicitor Private Client


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