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Contentious Probate Solicitors


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Comprehensive Support in Contentious Probate from Hibberts Solicitors

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.

The Spectrum of Contentious Probate: An Overview

Contentious probate is the term used when disputes arise about the distribution of a deceased person’s estate. These disagreements can involve challenging the validity of wills, managing estate administration concerns, or addressing potential breaches of trust by executors or trustees. Our role at Hibberts Solicitors is to provide our clients with clear guidance and assertive representation to protect and secure their interests.

Probate Dispute Resolution: Executors and Beneficiaries

When it comes to probate disputes, the role of the executor is often scrutinised by beneficiaries who may feel their inheritance is being mismanaged. Our probate dispute solicitors bring clarity and equitability to these situations, steering, as the case may be, executors or beneficiaries through the complexities of estate management and dispute resolution.

Inheritance Disputes: Responsibilities and Remedies

Inheritance disputes require a deep understanding of the intricate legal framework that governs estate distribution. Our inheritance dispute solicitors provide expert legal advice to navigate these often-turbulent waters, ensuring that our clients’ interests are represented robustly and with legal precision.

Will Disputes: Contesting Validity and Ensuring Fairness

Questioning a will’s validity is inherently hostile (though often justified) and is likely to be a distressing process for all parties.  Our will dispute solicitors have the sensitivity and legal expertise necessary to challenge wills on valid grounds to seek appropriate and suitable outcomes for our clients.

Trust Litigation: Breach of Trust and Trustee Responsibilities

Trust litigation may become necessary when a trustee fails in their duties, whether by negligence or by taking inappropriate steps in the course of their trusteeship. Our solicitors understand the gravity of these situations and provide comprehensive legal advice, whether advancing the interests of aggrieved beneficiaries or defending trustees against potentially spurious claims.

Mediation in Contentious Probate: A Path to Amicable Resolution

Mediation is an effective alternative to litigation in contentious probate matters. It allows for a more amicable resolution and can be less costly and time-consuming than court proceedings. At Hibberts, we have extensive experience in identifying and instructing highly experienced and excellent mediators with a track record of case resolution.

For those seeking clarity on the probate process and its implications, our detailed guide offers insights into what probate entails and the necessary steps for estate administration. Learn more about this essential aspect of estate management by visiting our What is Probate guide.

For more information regarding Contentious Probate
Probate Dispute Expert
Michael Ward
Partner & Head of Dispute Resolution
01270 624225
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Contentious Probate FAQs

What is contentious probate?

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.

How can solicitors help in a probate dispute?

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.

What are the common grounds for inheritance disputes?

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.

When should I consider contesting a will?

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.

What constitutes a breach of trust in probate matters?

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.

Can mediation resolve contentious probate disputes?

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.

What is the role of executors in contentious probate?

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.

How can trustees be involved in contentious probate?

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.

What is the time limit for raising a contentious probate dispute?

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.

Can family members who feel wronged by a will's terms seek legal recourse?

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.

Glossary of terms: Contentious Probate

  • Contentious Probate: Legal disputes regarding the administration of a deceased person's estate.
  • Executor: A person appointed in a will to administer the deceased's estate.
  • Beneficiary: A person or entity entitled to receive a portion of the deceased's estate under a will or by law.
  • Will: A legal document giving direction as to the distribution of a person's estate after death.
  • Mediation: A form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party assists those in dispute to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
  • Breach of Trust: Violation of the duties imposed on a trustee or executor, often involving mismanagement of assets.
  • Testamentary Capacity: The ability of a person to make a valid will, including understanding the nature and value of their assets and the implications of their decisions.
  • Undue Influence: Excessive pressure on a person, affecting their free will in decision-making, such as when making a will.
  • Inheritance Act: Legislation providing certain individuals the right to contest a will or the distribution of an estate if they have not been reasonably provided for.

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