Contentious probate represents a challenging field of law, where the intricacies of wills, estates, and trusts intersect with the emotional dynamics of grief and loss. At Hibberts Solicitors, we understand that behind every estate dispute is a story that deserves to be heard and addressed with care and legal acumen. With a history dating back to the 18th century, our law firm brings a wealth of experience to the table, offering expert navigation through the delicate issues of estate litigation, breach of trust, and the probate process.
Whether you are an executor facing allegations of misconduct, a beneficiary seeking your inheritance, or a family member contending with the nuances of a contested will, our team of dedicated solicitors is here to provide robust legal support. We blend our deep knowledge of contentious probate laws with a commitment to personalised service, ensuring that our clients receive not only top-tier legal representation but also the empathy and understanding required in trying times.
Our approach is one of collaboration and resolution. We advocate negotiation and mediation wherever there is common ground, to bring about a reasonable and amicable solution; however, if faced with unreasonable or unrealistic opposition, we are equally prepared to stand firm in court, advancing your case and robustly representing your interests.
At Hibberts, your peace of mind is our priority, and we strive to bring clarity and closure to even the most complex of contentious probate matters.
Contentious probate refers to any dispute that arises before, during or after the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. This may involve conflicts over the interpretation of the will, the handling of the estate by executors, or challenges made by those who feel they’ve been unfairly treated in the will. Our solicitors navigate these complex issues, at all times advancing our clients’ interests to the greatest degree possible.
Solicitors play a pivotal role in probate disputes by providing legal advice, explaining, advising, representing clients in negotiations, and, if necessary, handling the court process.
Inheritance disputes commonly arise from concerns over the validity of the will, interpretation of its terms, the division of assets, and the conduct of the executor. Grounds for dispute include lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, improper execution of the will, and lack of provision for dependents. Our solicitors can assist in evaluating and asserting a claim, providing support through every step of the legal process.
You should consider contesting a will if there are substantial reasons to believe that the will does not reflect the genuine intentions of the deceased (for example, there is evidence of coercion or fraud) or if the deceased lacked mental capacity during its creation. In other cases, you should consider challenging a will if you think it makes no or inadequate provision for you. Here, legal advice is essential in assessing whether you qualify as a claimant, the strength of any claim and determining the appropriate course of action.
A breach of trust in probate matters occurs when a trustee or executor acts outside their legal powers, mismanages the estate, or fails to comply with the terms of the will or trust agreement. This may include misappropriation of assets, not distributing assets in accordance with the will, favouring one beneficiary over another or neglecting to provide full and transparent accounts. Our solicitors can assist in remedying such breaches.
Mediation offers a confidential and potentially less adversarial approach to resolving contentious probate disputes. It involves a neutral third party who facilitates discussions between the disputing parties to help them reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Mediation can, and very often does, result in a more expedient and cost-effective resolution than court proceedings, and it can help preserve family relationships. Hibberts has expertise in, and a track record of, delivering successful mediations.
Executors have a legal obligation to administer the estate according to the terms of the will and the law. In contentious probate scenarios, executors may find their decisions challenged by those who feel aggrieved by the will’s provisions or by their management of the estate. We can support executors who find themselves in such a position.
Trustees manage the trusts created by a will. They can become embroiled in contentious probate if beneficiaries dispute the trust’s management or the interpretation of its terms. Our solicitors provide legal support to trustees to navigate these disputes, ensuring they act within their powers and fulfil their responsibilities.
The time limits for contentious probate disputes vary depending on the type of claim. Generally, challenges to the validity of a will should be made promptly, and ideally before probate is granted. For claims under the Inheritance Act, the deadline is typically six months from the grant of probate, which leaves a lot less time than one might imagine. It’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible to avoid missing critical deadlines.
Family members who believe they have been unfairly treated by the terms of a will do have options for legal recourse. This can include challenging the will’s validity or making a claim for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act. Our solicitors can advise on the merits of the case and the likelihood of success, supporting clients through the entire legal process.