Services for your Family

Contentious Probate

Our Private Client and Litigation Departments work closely to offer advice and effective solutions arising after someone has died. We act for personal representatives, beneficiaries and potential claimants and lead you through the process step by step.

The claims fall into two main categories:

  1. Challenges to the validity of a Will
  2. A claim under the Inheritance Act

Challenging the validity of a Will

The validity of a Will can be brought into question for a number of reasons.  These include:

  1. lack of mental capacity of the testator to make a Will;
  2. undue influence over the testator by a third party;
  3. lack of knowledge and approval of the contents of a Will by the testator; and,
  4. failure to comply with the formalities required to constitute a valid Will.

We will advise you on the grounds for bringing a claim or for defending one.  We will help you to gather relevant evidence.  This evidence may consist of obtaining statements from witnesses.  We can also require a solicitor who has prepared the disputed Will to provide us with a copy of the Will file so that it can be checked for attendance notes, letters of advice given to the testator and drafts of the Will.  We can also request medical records for the deceased person, including GP records and hospital records.

Once the evidence has been considered, we will advise you on the prospects of success and next steps.

Inheritance Act Claims

These claims are brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.  Claimants ask the Court to rearrange the terms of a Will or the rules of intestacy to make provision (or more provision) for them.

We give advice on:

  1. does the applicant meet the criteria to be entitled to make a claim?
  2. favoured applicants - spouses and partners;
  3. the adult child and other problem areas;
  4. taxation considerations;
  5. remedies.

We also give practical and helpful advice on the conduct of the claim to comply with best practice and pre-action behaviour.  The Pre-Action Protocols impose a clear duty upon all parties contemplation litigation to consider alternative dispute resolution.  Examples of this are:

  1. discussion and negotiation;
  2. early neutral evaluation by an independent third party;
  3. mediation – a facilitated negotiation assisted by an independent neutral third party.

How much will it cost?

Our charges are calculated by reference to the time actually spent by the solicitors and other staff in respect of any work carried out on the matter.  Our costs will be calculated based on an hourly rate.  Each case is different but, generally, the total costs do not exceed 2%, plus VAT, of the gross value of the estate depending on the assets within the estate and complexity of the matter.  For example, if the gross value of the estate is up to £250,000, our costs will usually not exceed £5,000 plus VAT.  If the gross value of the estate is £750,000, our costs are likely not to exceed £15,000 plus VAT and if the gross value of the estate is £1,000,000, our costs are likely not to exceed £20,000 plus VAT.  A member of our Private Client team will be happy to provide an outline of costs and discuss your requirements further.