An overview of contentious probate

Disputes over wills, trusts and inheritance have unfortunately increased as families become more dispersed and their structures more complicated. Contesting a will, trust or inheritance is never an easy process. In this contentious probate legal guide, we have gathered some of the most important points you should consider when deciding whether or not to contest a will.  

What is contentious probate?

When there is a dispute involving inheritance or the validity of a will in the UK, it is classed as contentious probate. In basic terms this is where there is disagreement after someone has died about the distribution of their estate. The dispute could be that you feel the will didn't leave you what you deserve or were promised, or you may have concerns regarding the way in which the will was made.

Who can contest a will?

You can contest a will by alleging the process of making it failed to comply with the law. There are a number of legal requirements in order for a will to be valid. The will and must be in writing, made voluntarily and without influence, the person who wrote the will must be over the age of 18 years, of sound mind and witnessed by two people (who are not beneficiaries) in the presence of the person who created the will. The will of course must be signed by the person making it. If you feel that you are not receiving what is expected you may be entitled to claim, however there are rigid time restrictions should you wish to do so.

Making a claim

To make a claim you must be a person who fits into one of the following categories:

  • the spouse of the deceased
  • a former spouse of the deceased, but only if you have not remarried
  • a partner who lived with the deceased for at least two years immediately before the death
  • a child or person who was treated as a child of the family of the deceased
  • someone who was supported financially by the deceased

Reasonable grounds

If one of those categories applies then you will need to show you have reasonable grounds to make a claim. These grounds are:

  • the will does not accord with the deceased's wishes
  • there was a mistake of fact, for example an error made by the person who drafted the will
  • the deceased lacked capacity and didn't fully understand the meaning and effect of what was in the will
  • the will was made under undue influence
  • the will was not executed properly
  • you feel that you were unfairly treated or left out of the will and were maintained by the deceased

It´s important that you seek swift advice and act quickly

At Churchers we know that dealing with these problems while grieving can be difficult and painful, which is why our team are on hand to minimise the stress for you. We aim to resolve contentious probate disputes quickly and cost effectively and have significant experience in dealing with such matters.

If you have any concern as to whether a will is valid or that the distribution of an estate is not being managed correctly, please contact a member of our Contentious Probate team or call 01329 822 333.

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