Losing a loved one is something everyone is likely to go through in their lives, but this doesn’t make it any easier. So, when family members are grieving and questions about the deceased’s estate arise, it’s easy for tensions to escalate and emotions to overspill, leading to disputes which put even the strongest of relationships at risk.
At Henriques Griffiths, we understand that in some circumstances, even the most cautious of estate planning can’t prevent issues arising among family members after death. We specialise in providing practical contested probate advice aimed at resolving your dispute smoothly and efficiently, whilst minimising any unnecessary conflict or stress.
Whether you are the executor of a Will which is being challenged, have been left out of a loved one’s Will, or have problems with the way an estate is being administered, our experienced contested probate lawyers are on hand to help you.
For further advice and information, get in touch with our expert contested probate solicitors in Bristol and Winterbourne today by calling 0117 9094000 or click on the links at the bottom of the page to make an enquiry or request a call back.
Our contested probate solicitors’ expertise
We have extensive experience across all areas of contentious probate, including:
- Claims for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
- Contesting the validity of a Will
- Disputes between Executors
- Disputes between Executors and Beneficiaries
- Will drafting errors
- Problems with estate administration, including valuation and distribution
- Caveats, Warnings, and Appearances to delay or resume probate
- Defending contested probate claims
What is contested probate?
When a person dies, the Executors appointed under the Will (or Administrators if there was no Will) must settle their affairs, including valuing the estate, paying debts, paying Inheritance Tax, selling property and distributing inheritance to Beneficiaries (either named in the Will or under the rules of Intestacy). This process is called probate.
Contested probate is where issues and disagreements surrounding the probate process or inheritance arise, such as challenges to the validity of a Will. Often, we can help clients resolve contested probate issues out of court through negotiation and Alternative Dispute Resolution, avoiding any unnecessary conflict. However, where it isn’t possible to settle out of court, we can also help clients make a range of court applications, robustly preparing their case and evidence on their behalf.
Grounds for contesting a Will
There are many grounds for contesting the validity of a Will, including:
- Lack of Testamentary Capacity – a person must have sufficient mental capacity (called Testamentary Capacity) to make a Will. This means they must understand what making a Will means and its effect, understand how much money and property they own, and understand the consequences of including or excluding certain Beneficiaries
- It was not validly executed – a Will must fulfil certain formalities to be valid, including it must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of at least two witnesses
- Lack of knowledge or approval – A Will may be property executed, but if the testator is not aware or in approval of the contents, it will not be valid. For example, where the person executing the Will includes a large gift to themselves
- Undue influence – if the testator was influenced, coerced, or under duress when executing the Will, it will not be valid.
- Fraud or forgery – for example, if someone drafts a Will without the ‘testator’s’ knowledge and forges their signature.
- Rectification – if the person executing the Will misunderstood the testator’s attentions or made clerical errors, you may be able to claim to have it rectified.
If you suspect your loved one’s Will may be incorrect or invalid, we can provide clear, understandable advice about your options, including filing a Caveat with the Probate Registry to prevent a Grant of Representation (permission to administer an estate) being issued or probate being conducted until the Will validity issue is resolved.
You may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for financial provision if:
- You have not inherited under the rules of intestacy because there’s no Will
- You’ve been left out of a Will entirely
- You have not been left as much inheritance as you need
And you are:
- A spouse or civil partner of the deceased
- A former spouse or civil partner and you have not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership
- A child of the deceased
- A step-child of the deceased
- A cohabitee having lived with the deceased for at least two years
- Someone financially dependent upon the deceased
Claims must be made within six months of probate being granted, so get in touch with our contested probate solicitors as soon as possible to get the ball rolling.
Contested probate FAQs
Can family members contest a Will?
Yes – in fact, most Will challenges are made by family members. However, not all family members are entitled to inheritance simply because they are related to the deceased. Get in touch with our contested probate lawyers for further advice about whether you can challenge a Will.
Can a child contest a Will if excluded?
Yes, you may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 if you require reasonable financial provision. However, children (particularly adult children) are not automatically entitled to inheritance. To decide whether an applicant should receive financial provision, the court will consider the following factors:
- Your financial needs and resources now and in the future
- Whether there are other applicants with financial needs
- The financial needs of the beneficiaries of the estate
- Any obligations or responsibilities the deceased had towards you
- The size of the estate
- Whether you have any physical or mental disabilities
- Any other reasons which may be relevant to the application
Can I contest a Will if I’m a Beneficiary?
Yes, Beneficiaries can challenge a Will whether they are relatives of the deceased or not. Common reasons for Beneficiaries to challenge a Will or probate process include:
- They disagree with the valuation of the deceased’s estate
- They disagree with the way the Executors are handling the administration of the estate, for example, it’s taking an unacceptably long time
- They haven’t received their inheritance
Why instruct Henriques Griffiths’ contested probate lawyers?
Our contested probate lawyers have decades of experience assisting clients across South West England and Wales.
With our expertise in negotiation and Alternative Dispute Resolution, we are often able to help clients resolve inheritance disputes and probate issues without having to attend court. This is particularly beneficial where close relatives are involved, and we pride ourselves on being able to help families resolve issues and heal rifts as harmoniously as possible.
As a firm, we are accredited by the Law Society in Lexcel for our excellent client care and practice management. We guarantee that we will handle your case professionally, efficiently, and cost-effectively, and will ensure that you are always kept up-to-date and aware of any developments in your case.
Henriques Griffiths is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Contact our contested probate solicitors today
For further advice and information, get in touch with our expert contested probate solicitors today by calling 0117 9094000 or click on the links at the bottom of the page to make an enquiry or request a call back.