Contested Probate: Thinking About Challenging a Will?

The death of a loved one is a difficult and emotional time. It can be made even more stressful when the division of their estate is not what was expected or causes a rift between grieving family members.

When someone is financially dependent on the person who has passed away or was expecting some inheritance, it can be distressing to learn that they are no longer receiving what they were promised. On top of their personal grief, being left in a situation where you may be struggling financially or forced to leave a property that you understood to become yours, can be an incredibly difficult time to go through.

If you have concerns about an estate and need advice on making a claim, please contact our Dispute Resolution Team on 01256 844888 or email for an initial conversation about your situation.


What is Contentious Probate?

Contentious probate refers to any disputes about an individual’s estate after they have died. There are a number of reasons why someone might want to contest a Will or bring a claim against someone’s estate, including:

  • Someone has been left out of a Will unexpectedly
  • Particular promises have not been included in the Will
  • A family fall-out has occurred resulting in a Will being changed
  • A Will was changed under pressure of a friend or family member
  • Someone was not of sound mind when writing their Will
  • No Will was in the place and the estate was handled under intestacy rules unfairly
  • The estate is being mismanaged by the executors
  • There is a dispute among the beneficiaries
  • An ex-Spouse has passed way without a financial consent order in place after divorce
  • Children have been missed out as beneficiaries
  • Insufficient financial provisions have been made for dependents
  • A Will has been misinterpreted or mis-valued
  • A Will has been poorly drafted or negligent legal advice has been given
  • A dispute over which Will is final or valid if more than one Will was written

Whatever the circumstances of your dispute, a Solicitor who specialises in Contentious Probate can help you achieve the best possible outcome.


Claims are on the Rise

Contentious probate claims have increased over the last few decades. This is thought to be down to a number of factors, including:

  • The population is getting richer and house prices are rising, so claims could be for significant sums
  • More people are making DIY Wills, using cheap online alternatives or unregulated Will Writers which means crucial legal advice is being missed
  • Family set-ups are becoming more complex, with people having children from previous relationships, stepchildren or adopted children, people are getting re-married or choosing not to marry at all
  • People are more aware of their legal rights than ever before with high profile cases being covered in the media
Contested Probate: Thinking of Challenging a Will? Read our article by Lamb Brooks Solicitors Basingstoke.

Should I Make a Claim Against a Will?

Challenging a Will can be deeply complex and emotionally charged. It should only be undertaken where there is a valid claim by someone with sufficient interest in the estate.

Before seeking legal advice it is worth raising your concerns with the executor/s of the Will, however, if the relationship has broken down or you are querying the job that the executors are doing, then you may need to speak to a Solicitor in the first instance.


Contentious Probate When There is No Will

If someone passes away without leaving a Will, then the intestacy rules will apply. In these cases, the law sets out who should inherit. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the correct decision will be made or that it cannot be argued. In these situations, often the main dispute is over who should be managing the estate. Someone could be appointed as executor that shouldn’t be the correct person. For example, an ex-partner who is still legally married to the deceased could be given the control over managing their estate, leaving a new partner out of the picture.

Dying intestate can still lead to disputes between family members and those close to the deceased, particularly if their family situation is not straightforward.


How to Make a Claim

The Inheritance Act is in place to ensure that there is a legal obligation to provide reasonable financial provision for dependants within someone’s Will.

To be entitled to make an inheritance claim you must fall under one of the categories in the 1975 Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act, Section 1. Those who can claim are; the spouse or civil partner, child, step-child, dependant or someone who lived in the same home.

Claims must be made promptly and within 6 months of the grant of probate being granted. Extensions can be given if there are good reasons, but it is best practice to start the process straight away.

In most cases disputes can be resolved outside of court through mediation and negotiation and the Will can be amended if all beneficiaries reach agreement. Should matters be more complicated or you struggle to reach a resolution between all parties, then the case can be taken to court.


Contentious Probate Solicitors - Hampshire

When looking for a Solicitor to represent you and take forward your claim, it is important to find someone who is local so that you can meet and exchange information easily, someone who specialises and has experience in contentious probate, that can use outside of court methods to keep your costs and stress minimal and someone who is highly rated and recommended.

If you have an ongoing dispute regarding an estate, suspect that a loved one’s Will was made under duress or would like to open up a claim for an estate that you were unfairly left out of then please get in touch with our experienced and diligent Dispute Resolution Team.

You can call us on 01256 844888, email or complete an enquiry form on our website to receive a call back. Alternatively you can speak to our online chat assistant (who is a real person, not an AI bot) at any time of day.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
Lamb Brooks LLP
Victoria House
39 Winchester Street
RG21 7EQ
01256 471 085
© Lamb Brooks is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority - SRA No 559661. Lamb Brooks LLP (registered at Companies House OC363909) whose registered office address is: Victoria House, 39 Winchester Street, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7EQ