A Will can be disputed on the following grounds:

  • If the deceased lacked mental capacity to make the Will
  • If the deceased was unduly influenced to make the Will
  • If the deceased was unduly influenced and cut out a beneficiary
  • If the deceased did not have sufficient knowledge and approval of the contents of the Will
  • If fraud or forgery is believed to be involved
  • If the Will was not signed and witnessed correctly
  • If the deceased revoked the Will

If you find yourself questioning the validity of a Will, you should contact us immediately as strict time limits apply. We can gather the appropriate evidence required, and help you raise a claim.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows you to make a claim against the deceased’s estate if you have found yourself left out of a Will, left with less than you need under a Will, or unable to inherit as a result of intestacy (where there is no Will).

The Inheritance Act enables the court to vary the distribution of the deceased’s estate for certain family members and dependants, including:

  • The spouse or civil partner of the deceased
  • The former spouse or civil partner of the deceased (who has not remarried or entered a subsequent civil partnership)
  • Any person cohabiting with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death
  • A child or any person treated as a child of the deceased (includes an adult child)
  • Or any person who was being maintained by the deceased

There is a very strict time limit of six months from the date of probate within which to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act. If you think you have a claim, don’t hesitate to contact us – we’ll let you know your options for funding upfront, what our approach is, and what the next steps are.

We also act for Executors and Beneficiaries in defending Inheritance Act claims so please feel free to get in touch with our Contentious Probate Team.

Trust disputes arise from a breach of trust – where a Trustee has acted (or failed to act) in a way that is not authorised by either the trust document or by law.

This could be where a Trustee breaches a fiduciary duty, such as the duty to bring trust property under their control and act impartially, or by distributing trust assets to a beneficiary who is not entitled to them. It could also be where a Trustee invests the trust fund in a way that is not permitted, or breaches their duty not to profit from the trust.

Also, if the Trustee acts otherwise than with absolute honesty, or fails to observe the required standard of care they can be found in breach of trust. To substantiate an action for breach of trust, you will normally have to demonstrate that loss has been caused.

We act for beneficiaries in bringing claims against Trustees where they are in breach of trust. We also act for Trustees in defending such actions. If you think you have a claim, you should act quickly in seeking legal advice to find out which limitation period applies to your claim.

If you are a beneficiary who is unhappy with the way your trust is being handled, or you are a Trustee in need of some advice, we are happy to talk on an initial no obligation and informal basis. Get in touch with Contentious Probate Team for more information.

A Will is one of the most important documents a person will write in their life. It’s important for it to be right, and for the people drafting it to act professionally.

You may have a negligence claim against the solicitor or Will writer in the following circumstances:

  • If there was a delay in drafting the Will, and the testator died before the Will was signed.
  • A Will was made for a testator who lacked mental capacity, knowledge and approval of the Will, or was unduly influenced.
  • If there was an error in the way the Will was drafted and it does not accurately reflect the wishes of the testator.

If any of these situations sound familiar, do contact our Contentious Probate Team immediately, as strict time limits apply. We’re happy to talk to you on an initial no obligation and informal basis.

The job of a personal representative (an Executor or Administrator) is to ensure the deceased’s estate is administered correctly and that the beneficiaries receive their share of the estate promptly, the maximum sale price for assets is achieved, and all debts and liabilities are paid. However, personal representatives can and do make mistakes. These include:

  • If the personal representative sells property for less than it is worth because of poor valuations.
  • If they don’t sell property quickly enough, which can cause it to be sold for less than it was worth.
  • If they don’t give the property to the beneficiaries quickly enough.
  • If they pay money to the wrong people.

Occasionally, a family member or friend acting as a personal representative might act in their own interests, in breach of their duties. If you are a beneficiary of an estate and are unhappy with the way a personal representative is handling matters, and/or there is evidence that they have made a mistake or deliberately acted with the result that the estate has lost value, you may be able to apply to the court to have them removed from their role, and hold them personally liable for any loss to you.

If you are an Executor or Trustee who is worried that they might be sued, or if you feel you have lost out because an Executor or Trustee has not acted properly, get in touch with our Contentious Probate team for more information.

Are you concerned that a friend or relative might be at risk of financial abuse? Are they in a vulnerable position and unusual financial activity has caused you to become suspicious? Perhaps they are elderly and dependant, and you have witnessed regular cheques being written out, or cash or valuables going missing, unexplained withdrawals of large sums of money, or regular transfers of money to another’s bank account for no apparent reason. If these circumstances seem familiar, then they may be a victim of financial abuse.

We often see cases that pertain to the misuse of a Power of Attorney. This happens where a person has been appointed as an Attorney to manage another’s property and financial affairs and act in that person’s best interest – however, they instead use the Power of Attorney for their own financial gain.

The abuser is often a relative or close friend who may attempt to justify their actions by saying that the person gifted them the money or property, or they are getting their inheritance early. The abuser could also be a partner, friend, neighbour, social worker, or a professional such as an accountant or solicitor.

If you are concerned that someone you know may be being financially abused please contact our Contentious Probate team – we are always happy to talk on an initial no obligation and informal basis.

The Court of Protection makes decisions on financial and/or welfare matters for people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions at the time they need to be made.

The Court of Protection is also responsible for giving permission to enable an individual to make one-off decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person as well as appointing Deputies to make ongoing decisions for people who lack mental capacity.

We can assist with the following:

  • Applications for Deputyship Orders.
  • Applications for Permission, to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person (in relation to both financial and personal welfare matters).
  • Urgent applications where a decision must be made on behalf of an incapacitated person without delay.
  • Applications to make a Statutory Will on behalf of an incapacitated person.
  • Applications to make gifts on behalf of an incapacitated person.
  • Applications to object to the registration of a Lasting Power of Attorney.
  • Applications to cancel an Enduring Power of Attorney.

We can also represent individuals who find themselves embroiled in Court of Protection proceedings, and assist with contentious Court of Protection matters where there are disputes or disagreements surrounding an incapacitated person.

If someone has lost the capacity to make a Will for themselves, perhaps through physical or mental illness, a learning disability or brain damage following an accident, the Court of Protection has the power to authorise the making of a Statutory Will for them. Once made, the Statutory Will has the same effect as any other Will and, because it is made with the authority of the Court, it cannot be challenged in the same way as a normal Will.

A doctor’s report is required to confirm if someone lacks the capacity to make a Will. If they have made a Will, it could be challenged on the grounds of a lack of testamentary capacity and, if the challenge is successful, the Will could be set aside.

We have years of experience preparing and submitting Statutory Will applications. If anyone disputes the proposed Will, we will work with you to achieve a sensible, cost-effective outcome.

The court will have to be satisfied that the proposed Will is in the best interests of the impaired person. Their wishes and feelings are extremely important, and we take the time to understand these as well as listen to your views and ensure they are all taken into account.

We are always happy to talk on an initial no obligation and informal basis so please get in touch with out Contentious Probate team.

Were you promised a gift in a Will, only to find out on the death of the person that they’ve not honoured the promise? Perhaps the deceased said they would mention you in their Will and you have found out that they neither have nor made a Will. If this sounds familiar, you may have a claim against the estate for the promised gift.

In order to bring a claim, you need to show:

  • That there was a promise, this could be both verbal or written.
  • That you did something in reliance on that promise. For instance, gave up a job, or worked for less money than you might have earned elsewhere.
  • That what you did can be regarded as having incurred a burden or a detriment.
  • The claim can also arise if you were promised a gift on death and before death the gift has been retracted.

If you find yourself in either situation you should contact us immediately as strict time limits apply. We are happy to talk on an initial no obligation and informal basis. Get in touch with our Contentious Probate Team for more information.

For charities, legacies from Wills are vital to protect. We understand the value legacies have, so we give practical, commercial advice while managing your public image.

We bring cases to a swift conclusion while protecting the legacies left to our charity clients. Because of this approach, most of our cases are resolved without the need for expensive court hearings. When we have gone to court however, we have achieved great results for our clients – that’s why we offer a Service Level Agreement to all of our clients.

We cover the following types of claims:

  • Challenges regarding the validity of Wills, including lack of capacity and undue influence
  • Fraudulent and forged Wills
  • Rectification of Wills
  • Disputes arising as a consequence of missing or lost Wills
  • Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants Act) 1975
  • Proprietary estoppel, constructive and resulting trusts
  • Removal of executors and trustees
  • Applications for inventories and accounts
  • Statutory Wills
  • Professional negligence claims relating to Wills, trusts and estates
  • Asset recovery and tracing claims including freezing applications
  • Court of Protection disputes
  • Breaches of trust
  • Domicile issues
  • Interpretation of Wills, trusts and/or the administration of estates
  • Misappropriation of trust or estate property
  • Cy-pres applications

Find out more about Charity services.

We cover the following non-contentious legacy administration:

  • Assisting charities with the administration of estates and advising on the most tax-efficient ways to deal with assets.
  • Dealing with tax issues and liaising with HMRC.
  • Advising on Deeds of Variation and rectification of Wills.
  • Advising on the protection of the charity’s interests under Will trusts and the correct interpretation of the tax provisions within the Will.
  • Applications to the Probate Registry in accordance with the Non-Contentious Probate Rules.
  • Abated legacies.
  • Requests for information.
  • Professional administration costs.
  • Sale of assets.
  • Dealing with foreign estate assets.

Before starting any work, we will agree with you what needs to be done, the timings, cost and our fees (usually fixed). We’re happy to talk with you on an initial no obligation and informal basis so please get in touch with our Contentious Probate Team.