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What is Contentious Probate?



 

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 of their estate.

Disputes Partner, Luke Watson discusses 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

Sometimes those appointed refuse to organise the estate, do it wrongly, take too much time, or seek to use assets and money for their own purposes.

  • Clarification

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.

  • Costs

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.

  • Roles

Replacing executors or trustees who fail to take up their duties or deal with their duties adequately.

  • Trusts

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.

  • 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, (e.g. estranged daughter gets a share of mother’s estate”).

If you require assistance to resolve such problems, or wish to seek advice on whether to bring a claim, please contact Luke Watson on 01225 750 000 or email luke.watson@mogersdrewett.com. Luke 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.