Contentious Probate Solicitors

Losing a loved one is incredibly difficult without the added stress of feeling that their estate is not being properly managed. If you feel that your loved one’s estate is not being handled correctly, we can help you contest probate.

Contesting probate occurs for various reasons; one being when two or more individuals or parties disagree over how a deceased individual’s estate should be settled. We can support you through this difficult time and advocate for your loved ones’ best interests.

Our Contentious Probate team has expertise in mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods. We also possess strong litigation skills if court proceedings become necessary.

At Barcan+Kirby, our highly rated contentious probate solicitors support clients across the UK from our offices in BedminsterBishopston, Bristol city centre, Kingswood and Thornbury.

To speak to one of our experts, please contact us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.

What is contentious probate?

Contentious probate includes any legal disputes over the distribution of someone’s estate and assets after their death.

When there’s disagreement among beneficiaries or challenges to the validity of a Will, it becomes contentious.

This could involve issues like inheritance act claims, disagreements over asset distribution, or disputes about the legitimacy of a Will.

The outcome of a probate dispute will depend on the individual circumstances of each case but common legal actions include contesting the validity of a Will, negotiating a settlement with other beneficiaries, or seeking a court order to protect your interests.

Resolving contentious Will and probate disputes typically involves methods such as negotiation and mediation or, if necessary, court proceedings.

Why choose Barcan+Kirby for help with contentious probate?

There are many reasons to work with our experts if you need help with contentious probate, including:

Example case study | Estate dispute after concealed assets revealed in Inheritance Act Claim

Contentious probate FAQs

It is always advisable to take prompt action before the grant of probate is issued to prevent further complications. The longer you wait to contest probate, the greater the chances are that the estate will have been distributed.

However, it is still possible to contest the validity of a Will after the probate grant has been issued. In a Will validity challenge, there are no specific time limits for bringing a claim, although equitable defences, such as laches and acquiescence, may apply and decisions vary based on the nature of each case.

The general timeframes for probate claims after the grant are as follows:

  • Inheritance Act claim: six months from the issue of the grant
  • Rectification claims: six months from the grant of probate
  • A beneficiary making a claim against the validity of a Will: equitable defences may apply
  • Fraud/claiming against an executor for appropriating estate assets: no time limit

Some claims, such as a claim for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act, can be pursued after the stated time limit, but only with the permission of the court.

If probate is contested it typically triggers a legal process, such as where the validity of the deceased person’s Will is challenged.

A Will challenge may arise due to suspicions of fraud, undue influence, lack of mental capacity, or improper execution of the Will.

As a civil case, the matter is usually heard by the County Court or the High Court. There is no jury present in a contentious probate case. Instead, the judge will hear all the evidence available and then make a ruling on what they believe is the right decision.

The judge will carefully examine the evidence presented by both parties, including witness testimonies and relevant documents.

If the contest is successful, the court may declare the Will invalid, leading to the potential distribution of assets according to a previous valid Will or intestacy laws.

When beneficiaries, family members, or other interested parties contest the validity of a Will, question the distribution of assets, or dispute the actions of the executor, it constitutes a contentious probate case.

Common grounds for initiating contentious probate proceedings include lack of mental capacity, lack of valid execution, lack of proper knowledge and approval of the terms of the Will, undue influence and fraud or forgery.

Contentious probate solicitors will often attempt to resolve the dispute using Alternative Dispute Resolution methods such as negotiation or mediation as it is typically a quicker and more cost-effective way to resolve the matter.

However, where an agreement cannot be reached, legal action can be taken through court proceedings, where evidence will be presented, and the judge will decide how to resolve the dispute.

Contentious probate cases are often emotionally charged and complex and the steps taken to resolve the dispute will depend on the individual circumstances of the case.

If you’re worried about the probate process, it’s best to seek legal advice as soon as possible to navigate the complexities of inheritance law and ensure a fair outcome.

The cost of resolving a Will, trust, or estate disagreement differs depending on the circumstances. It depends on factors like whether you are an executor or beneficiary, time, complexity, and whether a court appearance is necessary.

If the involved parties can reach an agreement, they can decide how to share the contentious probate costs. However, if no agreement is reached and the case ends up in court, the court will determine how costs will be settled.

The usual order is that ’costs follow the event‘, which means that the party who succeeds will usually have their costs paid by the other, unsuccessful party.

During the probate process, the executor has an important role in managing and distributing the deceased person’s estate. The executor, named in the deceased’s Will, is responsible for ensuring the deceased’s wishes are carried out.

Their responsibilities include gathering assets, settling debts, preparing accounts detailing the estate’s financial status and distributing the estate according to the Will. The executor is obligated to fulfil these duties.

If you suspect errors have been made in the distribution of assets or any other duties, you can potentially bring a claim against an executor. If the probate action is not against the executor, their duty will be to provide information only to the court.

In certain situations, you can seek court intervention to remove an executor from their role.

Our expert probate dispute solicitors are often called upon to step in and handle estate administration in these cases.

Other contentious probate claims include any disputes that arise during the administration of a deceased person’s estate. This could be conflicts among beneficiaries or concerns about the executor’s actions.

The process of contesting a Will may happen as part of a broader contentious probate case. Contesting a Will involves challenging the validity of the document. Individuals may question its legitimacy on grounds such as undue influence or lack of capacity.

Speak to our contentious probate solicitors

Our experts work with clients across the UK from our offices in BedminsterBishopston, Bristol city centre, Kingswood and Thornbury.

To speak to our specialist contentious probate solicitors, please contact us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.


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    • “I dealt with Barcan+Kirby for an unexpected inheritance from a dear friend of mine. I have to say if it wasn’t for their support, advice and service given, it would have been a very difficult situation to deal with for me. They not only took over in dealing with selling a property and everything to do with the estate was run but they even helped me with finding an Independent Financial Adviser so that I could make some wise decisions on what to do with such an unexpected sum of money.

      I now have everything sorted thanks to their team and they have been warm, responsive, and just a pleasure to deal with. They feel like a 'family' type of firm which I think really sets them apart from the rest."
      Jean CooleProbate + Estate Administration
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      You are a brilliant representative of your company, and I wanted to say thank you so much. I will definitely be in touch when I need help."
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