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Mark,
29 December, 23
The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
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04 October, 23
We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
Julie Taylor,
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I got the outcome I wanted regarding cease and desist to a competitor spreading defamatory statements about my business. Fast and professional, and at a much lower price than high street firms. Highly recommended thanks.
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Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
Pauline Piper,
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The service was fast and ultra professional
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Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
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About

A Contentious Probate is a legal process in which a will is challenged. This can be done by a family member or a creditor of the deceased. Solicitors are essential in contentious probates to ensure a smooth application and favourable outcome.Next steps

How much does help with Contentious Probate cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with Contentious Probate is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £188-£250 but in some cases it could cost as much as £264.

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Contentious Probate Solicitors

Dealing with someone's assets and estate after they pass away is a challenging but necessary task to honor their wishes. The last thing anyone wants is disputes or disagreements during this time. Unfortunately, this can happen and it is called contentious probate.

At Lawhive, our expert network of wills, trust and probate solicitors are here to help you resolve contentious probate matters and honour your loved one's wishes. Contact us today for a free case evaluation with our legal assessment specialists.

contentious-probate

In this article, we'll discuss the key aspects of contentious probate and what steps you can take if you're caught in the middle of one.

We understand it's a tough situation, but at Lawhive, we're here to support you and provide all the information you need to ease the burden.

What is contentious probate?

Contentious probate involves disagreements about handling a person's assets after their death. This includes will disputes, which happen when you contest the validity of someone's will. Such disputes often arise if you feel unfairly excluded from a will or that you haven't received your rightful share. Claims also may include allegations of undue influence, lack of capacity to make a will, or fraud in creating or finalising the will.

On the flipside, non-contentious probate refers to a smooth legal process of settling a deceased person's estate without any disputes or challenges. When everyone involved agrees on the terms of the will or how assets should be distributed, it's considered non-contentious.

Common types of contentious probate

Some of the most common types of contentious probate issues are:

  • Allegations that someone pressured the deceased into making or changing their will.

  • Doubts about the deceased's testamentary capacity.

  • Suspicions of forgery or fraud.

  • Disagreements over interpreting the will or dividing assets, or concerns about how the executor carries out their duties.

  • Family members feeling they weren't fairly provided for in the will.

  • Arguments among executors over estate management or asset distribution.

  • Challenges to lifetime gifts.

Who can bring a contentious probate dispute?

  • The spouse or civil partner of the deceased

  • Child of the deceased

  • Stepchild of the decease

  • Dependant of the deceased

  • Someone who lived in the same home as the deceased as if they were a married couple or civil partners .

Contentious probate disputes can be emotional and involve valuable assets. It's wise to seek advice from a solicitor to have skilled professionals handle your case.

Do I need a solicitor for contentious probate?

You might not always need a solicitor for contentious probate, but these cases can get legally complicated, and sometimes, court intervention is necessary for resolution.

If you're caught in such a dispute, it's wise to get some legal advice as soon as possible to understand the strength of your case and the legal options available to you.

How can we help with contentious probate?

At Lawhive, our network of probate solicitors are highly experienced in contentious probate and ready to discuss your case with you.

We offer a free case evaluation and no obligation quote so you can take the first step towards settling your contentious probate matter quickly and affordably.

How to start contentious probate proceedings

Starting contentious probate proceedings involves several steps, and the process may differ depending on whether there is a will or not. 

If there is a will

Before diving into contentious probate,get legal guidance. A solicitor experienced in probate disputes can review your situation, gauge your case's strength, and help start the process. Next, gather all necessary documents, like getting a copy of the will, any changes, and any evidence supporting your claim or dispute. Then, pinpoint the reasons you're contesting probate. This might involve challenging the will's validity, citing undue influence, lack of capacity, fraud, or other legal issues.

2. Enter a caveat

Before starting the official process, you can notify the executors or administrators by entering a "caveat" at the Probate Registry. This prevents the grant of probate until the notification is removed or a court order is obtained.

You can apply for a caveat online or by post. It costs £3. You might want to consider mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods to settle the dispute amicably. Some disputes can be resolved without going to court, and mediation can be a cost-effective and quicker option.

3. Issue court proceedings

If mediation doesn't work out, you might have to take the matter to court. This means getting all the right paperwork ready and submitting it to the court. For probate disputes, the main court is usually the High Court, specifically the Chancery Division. Before going to court, one of the last things you'll do is fill out the required court forms, like a Claim Form (N1) and Particulars of Claim. These forms lay out your case, why you're contesting probate, and what you're asking for. You'll need to include statements confirming the truthfulness of your claims.

4. Serve the documents

After filling out these forms, you need to deliver them to the other parties involved correctly, following the rules and timelines for serving court documents. Once the court process starts, the court might give instructions on managing the case, setting deadlines for sharing evidence and witness statements. There will be a trial or hearing where the court will review all the evidence and arguments from everyone involved. Then, the court will make a decision about the probate matter being disputed.

If there is no will

1. Apply for letters of administration

If there's no will, you might have to request Letters of Administration to become the estate's administrator. This means applying to the Probate Registry and giving information about the deceased person's assets and heirs. If there's a disagreement about who should be the administrator or if there are issues with how the estate is being distributed, you can start probate proceedings by applying to the Probate Registry. Just like before, you'll need to state the reasons why you're contesting the distribution of the estate. This might involve disagreements over who should get what or objections to the chosen administrator.

2. Issue Court Proceedings

Similar to cases with a will, you may need to issue court proceedings by completing the necessary court forms, serving them on the relevant parties, and proceeding through the court process.

As in cases with a will, consider mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve the issues without going to court.

3. Trial or hearing

During the trial or hearing, the court will review all the evidence and arguments before making a decision on the contested probate issue. In either situation, it's highly advisable to consult a solicitor who specialises in probate disputes. They can walk you through the process, evaluate your case's strengths, and advocate for you during the proceedings.

Do you have to go to court for contentious probate?

Not all contentious probate disputes end up in court! Many can be settled through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods or agreements outside of court. Mediation is often very effective. It's a voluntary and private process where a neutral mediator helps you and the other parties in the dispute find a solution that works for everyone. This allows for open talks and negotiation outside of a courtroom. It's a cost-effective and time-saving option compared to going to trial, so it's worth considering if it's an option! Direct negotiation, either between parties or through solicitors, is also a good way to reach an agreement without going to court. This might involve discussing asset distribution, changes to the will, or other related matters. Besides mediation, there are other forms of ADR like arbitration or expert determination that can also be used to settle probate disputes.

How much does contentious probate cost?

At Lawhive, consultations for contentious probate start at just £189. The total costs will vary based on your case's complexity, its outcome, and the work needed from your solicitor and you. But regardless of your legal needs, our solicitors work online for fixed fees. This means you'll know exactly how much you'll pay from the beginning of the process. Being upfront with your solicitor from the outset is crucial. The more details you share, the better they can assess your case and provide an accurate estimate of the fees involved.

Using Lawhive

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Know exactly what you will pay. On average 1/3 of the cost of a high street firm

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Pay by the hour

Hourly charges mean costs are hard to predict and you could be charged more than you expect.

Frustrating

It can be take days or weeks to hear updates from your solicitor.

Outdated and offline

Offline and slow procedures will require you to visit firms in-person.

No support

No dedicated support team. You'll have to deal with issues on your own.

Who pays for contentious probate?

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Usually, each party pays for their own legal fees, including solicitors, barristers, and court costs. If one party loses, the court might order them to pay the other party's legal fees. This decision depends on the court's discretion and factors like behavior during the case. Some solicitors offer "no win, no fee" arrangements, where they only get paid if the case succeeds.

After-the-Event insurance can help cover costs if you lose, but you usually have to pay the premium regardless of the outcome. Legal aid for probate disputes is rarely available, and eligibility criteria are strict.

How long do I have to make a claim?

Time is limited when it comes to probate matters. The main law governing these disputes is the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. There are deadlines, called "limitation periods," for making legal claims, and they vary depending on the type of claim and the situation. Missing these deadlines can mean losing the right to pursue your claim. For claims under the Inheritance Act, you usually have six months from when probate or letters of administration are granted to start your claim. Challenges to the validity of a will, like claiming it was made under duress or fraud, typically have a 12-year deadline from the date of death. However, these claims can be complex, and the court might consider when you found out about the issue. Disputes among executors or administrators about how the estate is being managed might have a six-year deadline from when the breach of duty happened. While these deadlines provide a general guide, the court can sometimes allow claims even if they're made after the time limits.

Contesting a will vs contentious probate

Contesting a will" and "contentious probate" are terms often used interchangeably, but they refer to slightly different aspects of legal disputes related to wills and probate matters. 

Let’s have a look at the main differences:

Type 

Contesting a will

Contentious probate

Definition

Contesting a will is challenging the validity of a will, like disputing the way the will was executed, questioning the mental capacity of the testator (the person making the will), alleging undue influence, or claiming that the will is a forgery.

Contentious probate is a range of legal disputes and challenges related to the administration of a deceased person's estate, not just the validity of the will. It includes disputes among beneficiaries, disagreements over the distribution of assets, conflicts among executors or administrators, and claims brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Grounds for Contest

Lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, forgery, or failure to comply with the formalities required for a valid will.

Can involve various issues, including challenges to the validity of the will, disputes over the interpretation of the will, claims for provision under the Inheritance Act, and conflicts regarding the administration of the estate.

Limitation Period

A limitation period of 12 years from the date of death, although the court may consider when the claimant became aware of the grounds for the claim.

Claims under the Inheritance Act generally have a limitation period of six months from the date of the grant of probate or letters of administration.

Example

A person may contest a will if they believe the testator was under duress or did not have the mental capacity to understand the consequences of the will.

A person may engage in contentious probate if they believe they have not been adequately provided for in the will or if there are disputes among beneficiaries over the distribution of assets.

Get help from our contentious probate solicitors

Here at Lawhive, our expert probate solicitors are on hand, ready to take on your contentious probate case and get you to the much-needed conclusion you deserve. 

Contact us to get a free case evaluation today. 

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