When a will or intestate estate is contested, legal advice is vital to protect the interests and property of the deceased. We are one of few firms outside London with a team of dedicated full-time contentious probate solicitors and have a strong track record of providing and achieving the proper outcomes for our clients in this complex area of law. Our team can advise you in clear terms with minimal jargon.
We appreciate that a dispute may be emotional for you and therefore commit to resolving your matter as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Whether you are contesting the value of your loved one’s estate, administration or interpretation of their will, or verifying the validity of a will, we can help. By tackling issues head-on, we can settle a significant proportion of cases without court involvement, reducing expense and stress. Our key focus is to act speedily and add value to your position at all times to fix the problem or issue you have.
If you are looking to write your own will and secure your property after you’ve passed away, we can help too. We have a specialist will writing team that can manage all the legal obligations and secure your property.
What Is Contentious Probate?
Contentious probate refers to any dispute surrounding the administration of a deceased person’s will. A dispute may arise from the interpretation of the will, the valuation of the estate, the actions of executors or general disagreements between beneficiaries.
The best way to deal with these issues is to enlist the help of specialist contentious probate solicitors. We can help you complete the necessary legal processes to delay the administration of a will and resolve disputes to ensure your loved one’s estate is managed in accordance with their wishes.
How Can Disputes Arise?
When a will is executed, multiple moving parts can affect the outcome of the process. Each step is open to interpretation and dispute, meaning there are many ways an issue can arise. Here are some common problem areas we deal with regularly:
Value Of The Estate
Unfortunately, whenever a property is at stake, problems commonly follow. If valued incorrectly, it can lead to tax issues and disputes over how the property is shared.
Interpretation Of The Will
Wills are legal documents that should be interpreted carefully to truly understand the deceased’s final wishes. There could be clerical errors, mistakes or complex passages requiring specialist interpretation and negotiation to execute.
Executing a will has multiple moving parts that can lead to disputes if managed incorrectly. You can contest and remove the executor on particular grounds: they have paid beneficiaries before settling debts, sold a property at a decreased value, taken assets for themselves, failed to give the beneficiaries an account of the estate or delayed administration.
General disputes can arise between beneficiaries and often require mediation to settle.
A Will’s Validity
Claims of invalidity are possibly the most contentious issue we face. Often this claim is that the person making the will lacked the testamentary capacity to do so, perhaps due to illness or old age.
Inheritance Act Claims
The Inheritance Act 1975 protects an individual’s financial dependents after they are gone. If the deceased did not leave a valid will, you have been omitted from a will or have not been left as much as you need, you can make an Inheritance Act Claim. You have six months from the Grant of Probate to make a claim.
One of the tools we can use to rectify contentious probate is a caveat. This document is filed to prevent the grant of probate and the administration of the will. They can be used to dispute the preparation and validity of the Will or to prevent the will from being executed by someone you believe is unfit to do so.
To file a caveat, you have to oppose the estate. For example, you could be a disinherited child of the deceased. When you file a caveat and it is approved, it is in place for six months. It can then be renewed and extended in six-month increments for as long as necessary.
We can help you manage an estate as an administrator or executor and support you through any estate dispute, whether you’re making or defending it. Whenever we take on a case, we aim to resolve it outside of court, but we also have the experience to represent you in court if the claim escalates. Here are some of our services:
Make a Claim
If you want to claim against an estate, we can help you enter a caveat to provide time to challenge the validity of a will. We can help you prove that it was forged, that there was a lack of capacity, or that the deceased was a victim of undue influence.
Whether you are bringing a claim for professional negligence, breach of trust or financial provision under the Inheritance Act 1975, we can provide the specialist assistance you need. If required, we can even help remove an Executor or Trustee.
If someone makes a claim against the estate of your loved one, it can be distressing, especially if you are an administrator, executor or beneficiary. We can help you defend the claim and secure the estate.
Why Choose Wilkes
When you choose our contentious probate solicitors in Birmingham and Solihull, you benefit from the following:
- Our partner-led approach and a dedicated solicitor
- A Legal 500 recognised law firm
- A Lexcel accredited and Solicitors Regulation Authority authorised law firm
- Our knowledge of probate protocols and legislation
- Our award-winning solicitors
- Our international network of connections in 40 different countries
If you are involved in any disputes surrounding a loved one’s estate or the execution of their will, our solicitors can make or defend a claim. We can interpret and contest a will, remove executors for mismanagement, value an estate or deal with any other issues.