When a loved one has died, it is understandable that the last thing that you may want to think about is problems with their estate being divided. Contentious probate solicitors will be able to help you if you are having issues after the death of a loved one.

What is contentious probate?

Contentious probate refers to any estate dispute that occurs after a person’s death. Some common disputes that our probate solicitors deal with include:

  • The interpretation of will
  • Dealing with an executor or family member who has mismanaged the trust or estate
  • The value of the assets involved
  • Disagreements and inheritance disputes between beneficiaries

If you have any concerns about any of these issues, then our professional representatives can help you throughout the process. Our contentious probate team have a great deal of experience in dealing with situations of this kind.

Grounds for Contesting a Will

The most common issue that is dealt with in a contentious probate dispute is a contested will. In order to determine whether a will is valid, you have to determine whether the will has been completed correctly.

Because a will has the power to dispose of a deceased person’s entire estate, property and goods, it has to comply with several requirements of the Wills Act 1837 in order to be legally valid. The first requirement being that the person making the will must be aged at least 18 years when signing the will. In order to be valid, a will needs to fulfil several criteria. It must:

  • Be in writing and signed by the person making the will.
  • The person making the will must have it signed with the intention of creating a valid will.
  • Two people must witness the will maker’s signature.
  • The witness then signs.

Lack of mental capacity

One of the grounds for successfully contesting a will is if the person who made the will is not deemed to have had the mental capacity to understand their actions. They must be deemed to be of ‘sound mind, memory and understanding’ when they are making a will. The legal test applied originates from the case of Banks v Goodfellow [1869-70] which states that a valid will must come from someone who:

  • Understands that they are making a will and the effect that contents of the will will have.
  • Understands the full value of their estate and belongings.
  • Understands the consequences of including or excluding certain people from their will.
  • Is not considered to be suffering from any mental disorder which could influence or confuse their views.

Undue influence or coercion

Another valid reason for a will being contested is that the person who made the will was susceptible to undue influence or coercion. This is defined as ‘the act or practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.’ Coercion can take several different forms, including physical violence or verbal bullying. If undue influence has been used in any way, then this could lead to the will being contested and an estate dispute.

Lack of knowledge or approval

If a will is potentially being contested, it must be confirmed that the will has been made in the knowledge that the person who made it understood and approved the contents of their will.

Contentious probate can include a number of different issues, all of which our probate specialists can assist you with. A contentious probate claim may seem like it can complicate the process of sorting out an estate. However, it can be done swiftly and efficiently with the help of specialists.

Get in touch today for help and advice.

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FAQ

What is contentious probate UK?

Contentious probate refers to any estate dispute that occurs after a person’s death. Some common disputes that our probate solicitors deal with include:

- The interpretation of will
- Dealing with an executor or family member who has mismanaged the trust or estate
- The value of the assets involved
- Disagreements and inheritance disputes between beneficiaries

What is non contentious probate?

Non-contentious probate is a situation in which no-one wants to challenge the will and how the estate is going to be handled.

What are the grounds for contesting a will?

- Lack of mental capacity
- Lack of due execution
- Lack of knowledge and approval of the will
- Undue influence or duress
- Fraud or forgery
- Rectification and construction

Can I contest a will even if I am not in the will?

No, you cannot contest a will if you are not in it or you are not family.