The death of a loved one is a difficult time for any family or friend to deal with. It can be made even more challenging if it moves on to involve contentious probate will disputes.
Those issues can become emotional and intense, especially when it relates to the distribution of assets and beneficiaries.
Any dispute that relates to the administration of a person’s estate after their death is known as contentious probate. It can be a difficult legal process to navigate.
If you would like to speak with a specialist now about a contentious Will dispute, please either call us now on 0845 1391399 or complete a Free Online Enquiry and we will connect you with a specialist contentious probate solicitor.
What Is Contentious Probate?
Put simply, contentious probate is when an individual has a dispute over the administration of someone’s estate following their death.
The majority of contentious probate will disputes relate to wills being invalid or claims for ‘further provision’, which is when a person believes they had a right to assets.
These claims are usually made by close family members such as a spouse, parent, child, or sibling.
Wills can also be challenged in several key areas, such as:
- The individual making the will not having the mental capacity to do so
- The individual making the will not having full knowledge of the contents, or not approving of all aspects of the will
- Undue influence by another individual on the person making the will
- Suspected fraud or forgery
It’s important to realise that a will cannot be contested simply because it appears unfair or if someone dislikes any aspect of it.
Anyone is free to leave their estate to whomever they wish, and this principle is known as testamentary freedom – so long as they’ve of free will to make the decision at the time of the creation of the will.
The key distinction is that if someone feels that the will doesn’t make “reasonable financial provision” for them when it should do, then it can be disputed.
Other contentious probate claims include:
- Rectifying a will where there’s a mistake in the content
- Honouring the promise of the deceased which hasn’t been reflected in the will
- Clarifying the will’s meaning where there’s uncertainty
- Lifetime gifts made by the deceased and whether they’re valid
- Ownership of a property
- Disputes between executors and beneficiaries over their conduct in administering the estate
- Professional negligence claims relating to the creation of a will or administration of the estate
- What If I Want To Contest A Will? And How Much Does It Cost?
There are a lot of factors to consider when contesting a will, and the cost will depend on those too…
If assets have already been distributed, the situation becomes much more difficult to resolve, while if you’re attempting to gather evidence that a will hasn’t been duly executed, the timescale involved could be prolonged.
If the opponent accepts that a will is invalid quickly, your legal costs are likely to be somewhere between £500 and £1500.
However, if the dispute isn’t settled after an initial letter, the next stage is likely to be some form of mediation. And the cost of progressing to this stage can be anything from £7,500 to £10,000.
If the case isn’t settled after this and proceeds to court, then the costs are likely to rise to as much as £20,000, and if it proceeds to trial, the total cost could be more than £100,000.
It’s worth noting that around half of all cases are settled before proceedings are issued, and just 2% of cases ever reach the final trial stage.
This is why any issues must be identified early to ensure that they’re resolved early through mediation or similar discussions.
That’s why the advice of a qualified legal professional is vital from the outset – particularly due to the complexity of inheritance claims.
What If I Need Help With Contentious Probate Will Disputes?
If you’re dealing with contentious probate, it’s most likely a challenging period for you and your loved ones. So, if you’re looking for solicitors near you to help, we’ve got you covered.
Simply click below to connect with solicitors in your area…