Dispute Resolution

Navigating Disputes over Wills and Estates

27th July 2023 John Hoey

Contentious probate refers to disputes that arise regarding the validity and administration of wills and estates. In the United Kingdom, the number of cases relating to contentious probate has witnessed a significant increase in recent years. This article dives into the complexities and implications of contentious probate, outlining the key factors involved in such cases.

1. Validity of Wills:
Contentious probate cases often revolve around challenges to the validity of a will. This can include claims of undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, or improper execution of the will.

2. Intestacy Disputes:
In situations where an individual dies without leaving a valid will, intestacy disputes emerge. Controversies may arise over the interpretation of the intestacy laws, resulting in battles over the rightful beneficiaries of the estate.

3. Family Provision Claims:
Another common aspect of contentious probate is family provision claims, where a family member challenges the provisions made for them in the will or under intestacy laws. These claims are typically based on the belief that the deceased did not adequately provide for their dependency or maintenance.  In these situations, however the time limit to make a claim is six months from the date of the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration.

4. Executor and Trustee Disputes:
Contentious probate cases may also involve disputes amongst executors and trustees appointed to handle the administration of the estate. Allegations of misconduct, negligence, or breach of fiduciary duties can lead to lengthy legal battles.

5. Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution:
Recognising the complexity and cost implications of contentious probate proceedings, many parties opt for mediation and alternative dispute resolution methods to settle their disputes. This approach ensures privacy, reduces costs, and facilitates faster resolutions.

Contentious probate cases in the UK present significant challenges, often resulting in complex legal battles with far-reaching consequences. The intricacies of determining the validity of wills, intestacy disputes, family provision claims, and executor disputes require careful navigation within the legal system. Despite the adversarial nature of such cases, alternative dispute resolution methods offer a hopeful ray of light for parties seeking a more expedient and amicable resolution.

If you feel you have been affected by any of the above, please contact me, John Hoey of Biscoes solicitors. jhoey@biscoes-law.co.uk