If you are searching for ‘Contentious Probate Solicitors Near Me’, chances are you have an issue relating to probate in respect of which you need legal advice.
Our Norwich-based contentious probate solicitors are experts in the field, having amassed years of experience dealing with claims arising from probate.
Our solicitors understand that disputes arising from the administration of a loved one’s estate can make a difficult time even more stressful and they pride themselves on giving straightforward, concise advice in a compassionate manner to ensure that all issues are dealt with as swiftly and effectively as possible.
What is Contentious Probate?
The term ‘contentious probate’ refers to any dispute arising out of the administration of a deceased person’s estate. The overarching principle is that a person is at liberty to deal with their estate howsoever they wish, provided they were of sound mind and not under undue influence when they made their Will. If the deceased did not leave a Will, the law dictates the order of beneficiaries in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy. However, the administration of an estate can often be arduous, complicated and wrought with emotion, and it is therefore not surprising that disputes frequently arise.
What Sorts of Disputes can arise in Contentious Probate?
Since every estate is different, the issues which can arise are wide and varied. Examples of some of the disputes our contentious probate solicitors regularly deal with are –
Issues relating to the validity of a Will
Examples of challenges concerning the validity of a Will include that the deceased lacked mental capacity at the time of making it, they did not properly understand the contents of the Will or that undue influence was placed on them to deal with their estate in a particular manner.
Claims against an executor or administrator relating to the alleged mismanagement of an estate
Executors and administrators are under a duty to carry out their tasks with care and skill. Dishonest, improper or incompetent executors can cause significant loss to beneficiaries and other third parties such as creditors. If an executor or administrator is found to have breached their duty, they can be held personally liable for any losses and removed from office. Our contentious probate solicitors assist both those with concerns surrounding the administration of an estate and executors or administrators who find themselves the subject of such claims.
Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act) 1975
It can be incredibly disappointing to discover that a loved one’s Will does not provide for you in the manner you had hoped for or fails to provide for you at all. Whilst disappointment in and of itself is ordinarily insufficient to challenge a Will, you may be able to bring a claim under Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act) 1975 on the basis that the Will (or, in the absence of a Will, the Rules of Intestacy) do not make ‘reasonable financial provision’ for you. If a claim is successful, the Court can override the provisions of a Will or Rules of Intestacy and change how the estate is distributed.
The Inheritance Act sets out specific categories of people who can bring a claim. They include a spouse, a child (or those treated as such; step-children for example) and anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased. A spouse or civil partner does not need to prove financial need to bring a claim; those in all other categories need to show that they are in need of financial support from the estate to cover their maintenance.
Claims under the Inheritance Act must be brought within six months from the date of the Grant of Probate or the Letters of Administration. It is sometimes possible to obtain an extension of this time limit; our contentious probate solicitors will advise on the likelihood of any extension being granted by the Court.
‘Proprietary Estoppel’ Claims
If the deceased promised that you would receive something on their death which they subsequently fail to provide for in their Will, you may have a claim under the legal doctrine of ‘proprietary estoppel’.
To bring a proprietary estoppel claim, you need to show –
- That an unambiguous, binding promise was made to you by the deceased. This could be through words or conduct;
- That you relied on that promise, to your detriment; and
- That it would be unfair to allow the deceased to renege on their promise.
Many cases of proprietary estoppel concern farming families, where family members have worked on a farm for little or no remuneration in reliance on a promise that they would inherit an interest in it.
The Court has a wide discretion as to the relief granted in successful proprietary estoppel claims; it may order the transfer of the property in question, for example, or grant financial compensation.
How Much Does A Contentious Probate Matter Cost?
Every contentious probate claim is different. As such, the costs will depend entirely on the complexity of the matter, the time needed to deal with it and whether the issues can be resolved between the parties or a Court hearing is required.
There are various ways to cover the costs of a contentious probate case. Our contested probate solicitors will discuss the options with you which may include legal expenses insurance, third-party funding, monthly billing and payment on completion.