Contentious or contested probate (also referred to as challenging a will) is unfortunately becoming more widespread. In particular, wills being contested in the High Court are increasing rapidly – the number of cases rose from 227 in 2018 to 368 in 2019 – a 62% rise in a single year. However estate disputes and contested probate cases are often complex, and you need to make sure that you choose a solicitor specialising in this area of law.
In addition to our probate work, we have a team of solicitors specialising in both bringing and defending contested probate cases both locally throughout Wiltshire, Hampshire, Somerset and Dorset and nationally throughout England and Wales from our offices in Salisbury, Andover, Fordingbridge and Amesbury.
Thinking of contesting probate? Call our highly experienced team on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE initial phone advice – no strings attached.
Contested Probate – please think twice
Please think carefully before contesting probate. Quite apart from the stress and financial cost an estate dispute claim brings, it often causes irreparable damage to family relationships.
Why should I contest probate?
There are a number of reasons for contesting probate including;
- Professional negligence claims arising out of wrongly drafted wills.
- Inheritance disputes – when dependants feel that they have not been made ‘reasonable financial provision’ from the estate (under the 1975 Inheritance Act). Click here to read more about making an inheritance claim
- Claims that the will is fraudulent or was made under duress.
- Claims that the will is not actually the last will of the deceased.
- Arguments that the deceased lacked sufficient mental capacity when making their will.
- Claims against or between personal representatives or trustees. Click here to read more about executor disputes
- The will has been lost.
How our solicitors can help you in contesting probate?
We can advise you at an early stage how likely the contested probate claim is to succeed.
Contesting Probate – How Much Time Do I Have?
It’s important to see a solicitor who specialises in this area as soon as possible. Time limits for will contest cases are set out in the Limitation Act 1980 and vary considerably according to the type of claim. Time limits in bringing any type of contested will or inheritance claims are, however, strictly enforced. Therefore it is critical that specialist legal advice is obtained as soon as possible.
In general, however, the principal time limits for bringing any contested probate claim are as follows :-
• For a beneficiary claiming against an estate – 12 years following the date of death of the testator
• For a dependency claim for maintenance under the Inheritance Act – 6 months from the grant of probate itself
• For will fraud -there is no time limit in cases of fraud involving wills
Our advice is simple. Don’t risk losing your right to make a claim. Get specialist legal advice ASAP. Leaving it too long could mean that you miss out on your right to claim compensation entirely.
What Is a Probate Caveat?
A probate caveat is a written request made to the Probate Registry to be notified prior to a grant of probate being issued to an executor. The caveator [i.e. the person applying for the probate caveat] will receive notice from the Probate Office if and when a third party intends to obtain a grant of probate. They then have 8 days in which to take legal action to prevent that grant of probate or the caveat ceases to have any effect.
It’s important to note that a probate caveat must have been filed before an application for a grant of probate is received or it will have no effect.
A probate caveat lasts for 6 months.
Why would I want to stop probate?
There are a number of reasons why you might want to stop probate from going ahead, e.g., because of a dispute over who can apply for a grant of representation or whether a will exists.
This process provides the person granted the caveat with extra time to make enquiries and to obtain relevant information to determine whether or not there may be sufficient grounds to contest the will in some way through the court.
Probate Caveat – an alternative
It is not always appropriate to lodge a caveat i.e., if the grant of probate has already happened. An alternative to applying for a probate caveat is to apply to court for an immediate injunction against the executors of the estate. An injunction in these circumstances is a court order which permits or forbids someone from taking specified action. In probate cases, this could include, for example, preventing the executors from distributing legacies and assets to the beneficiaries until all legal issues are resolved.
As it is a court order, the breach of an injunction is taken seriously. If the executors were to breach an injunction, they would become personally liable for both a civil and criminal offence, which can include contempt of court [which itself can carry a prison sentence].
Thinking of a contested probate claim? Don’t suffer in silence. Contact us for free initial phone advice today
So if you are thinking of Contesting a Will, contact one of our specialist team straight away.
Our team offer no win no fee agreements for appropriate contested probate cases. Click here to read more about how no win no fee works