Contentious Probate And Trusts
Will disputes are something which can affect any family, and there are many different problems which can arise from contentious probate and trusts. There are numerous issues covered by the term “will dispute,” however “contentious probate” is the official term which solicitors use when referring to disputes which occur following a death.
What Does A Contentious Probate Solicitor Do?
A contentious probate solicitor’s role is often to dispute the will of the deceased person on behalf of a client, and in some cases, their role is to help their client to pursue their claim in the case where no will has been left at all.
Contentious probate solicitors seek to investigate the deceased party’s true wishes and then to prove and implement those wishes to ensure that the money and assets of the deceased go to the person or persons who are most entitled.
Why Do Contentious Probate And Trusts Cases Occur?
Often difficulties arise because the person who has been tasked with distributing and administering the estate of the deceased person does to incorrectly or in a way that raises suspicions that the people who are entitled to inherit may actually lose out.
Many people leave assets or money in trusts, and when they die there are frequently disagreements as to or owns or can use the money or property held in trust. Trustees may not adhere to the deceased person’s wishes or may disagree with those wishes and the result is often a dispute with those who are entitled either at the present time or at some future time.
What Kind Of Disputes May Arise?
There are numerous forms of disputes over contentious probate and trusts including:
- Challenges to a codicil or will’s validity – perhaps there is an argument that the will has not been witnessed or signed correctly, or that the person who died lacked the necessary mental capacity for the will to be valid. Other challenges could be that the person who made the will was coerced into doing so, or did not approve of or know about its contents, or even that a later will which is the true valid one exists. In a few cases, the challenge may be that the will is forged.
- Claims made under the 1975 Inheritance Act which enables the court to exercise its discretion, awarding a reasonable amount of financial provision from the estate of a deceased person whether a valid will exists or not.
- Disputes over the way in which the deceased person’s estate has been distributed or administered – in some cases the person appointed to administer and distribute the estate may refuse to take the responsibility, take too long, do it incorrectly or misappropriate the money and assets for themselves.
- Clarification – in some cases a will may be valid but the provision made in it is not clearly understood or the will contains mistakes. In these circumstances, the court may allow rectifications to the will or determine the meaning of any gift or clause which remains unclear.
- Costs – many disputes occur over the costs which have been incurred by the person or persons who are responsible for administering the deceased person’s estate, the solicitors who are helping them, or the trustees who have been appointed. Applications may be made in some cases to the court for a reduction in those costs. Sometimes the trustees may improperly administer the trust or end up causing the fund to lose money, and in these cases, recovering those losses may be possible.
- Roles – replacing trustees or executors who do not deal properly with the duties assigned to them or who do not take up those duties at all.
Over the last few years more disputes have come to light over the estates of deceased persons, and seeking legal advice about whether or not a claim for contentious probate or trusts is often the best course of action. An experienced specialist solicitor will be able to offer professional guidance and advise as to the validity of any such claim to any beneficiary or potential beneficiary, any executors or personal representatives, deputies and attorneys, charities, creditors of the deceased debtor or trustees who believe that they may be entitled to receive money or assets.