The scope of disputes under the banner of Contentious Probate is endless and in recent years there has been a significant increase in cases. Essentially, Contentious Probate is where there is a disagreement after someone has passed away about the distribution or administration of their estate.
Below are some examples of typical disputes:
- Challenges over the validity of a Will
It may be argued that the Will was not signed or witnessed correctly, that the deceased person did not have the mental capacity, that they were coerced, did not know or approve of the contents or that there is in fact a later valid Will in existence.
- Disputes over the administration or distribution of a deceased’s estate
The executors or administrator who is appointed refuses to administer the estate, does it wrongly, takes too much time, or seek to use assets and money for their own purposes.
Sometimes a Will is valid but contains a mistake or a provision is not understood. In certain circumstances a court will allow a Will to be rectified or seek to determine the exact meaning of a clause or gift.
- Fraud / Forgery
Unfortunately fraud does occasionally take place. Wills and signatures can be forged, a deceased person impersonated or a valid will has been destroyed. To a lesser degree occasionally a party can be accused of unduly influencing the maker of the will.
- Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
The Act applies whether or not there is a valid Will in existence and allows the court to exercise discretion and award reasonable financial provision out of a deceased’s estate, to a person who was dependant upon them.
There are often disputes over the costs incurred by those administering the estate, the trustees appointed, or the lawyers assisting them. It may be possible to apply to the court to reduce those costs.
- Replacing Executors / Administrators / Trustees
Replacing executors, administrators or trustees who fail to take up their duties or deal with their duties adequately.
Often people who pass away leave their money or assets in a trust and disagreements often arise as to ownership or use of property or money in that trust. Trustees may disagree or fail to adhere to the wishes of the deceased resulting in a dispute with those entitled now or in the future.
If you require assistance to resolve such problems, or wish to seek advice on whether to bring a claim, please contact John Osman on 01749 342 323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. John is a Member of The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (www.actaps.com) and able to help you resolve your dispute professionally and with sensitivity.