Disputes and Court proceedings can happen at the most
sensitive and difficult of times. At KBL, we have an experienced team
who can deal with all aspects of disputes which can arise when someone
Probate Litigation can be notoriously expensive and time
consuming. Our aim is always to strive to resolve probate disputes
speedily, cost effectively and where possible out of court. We can
assist executors, trustees or beneficiaries involved in disputes or
legal proceedings (both commencing and defending) related to contested
There are 4 common areas of probate dispute.
1) Pre-death issues; If a person dies intestate
(i.e. without leaving a valid Will) this could mean that their partner
receives less, or that the money and assets go to family members they
did not intend to receive it or that they end up paying more Inheritance
Tax than necessary.
KBL can assist both executors and beneficiaries who face:
- Disputes resulting from lifetime transactions;
- Allegations of Undue Influence and setting aside lifetime transactions;
- Disputes about jointly owned properties;
- Claims for resulting trusts;
- Issues surrounding Powers of Attorney; and
- Court of Protection / Mental Capacity Act 2005 claims.
2) Disputes about Wills; Even where a person has
made a Will, arguments can flair up amongst family members where
emotions are running high and relationships are under strain. Disputes
can occur between beneficiaries (those entitled to receive a legacy) and
executors (those who administer the estate after death).
For example, a Will could be challenged in Court in the following circumstances:
- The Will was made under duress (i.e. under pressure from a third party);
- The deceased did not have mental capacity at the time of making the Will;
- There is a technical defect with the Will, such as it not being executed properly;
- Negligently drafted Will;
- The Will was found damaged or torn; and
- Promises of legacies made by the deceased outside the scope of the Will.
3) Grant of Probate disputes; Once a person dies
having left a Will it is necessary to locate it so that a grant of
probate can be obtained and the estate duly distributed in accordance
with the terms of the Will. These steps can be problematic and
complicated for the executor in the following circumstances:
- The original Will is lost or destroyed;
- The Will is in the possession of someone who refuses to release it;
- Where a Caveat has been entered;
- Where assets are held abroad; and
- Threat of legal action against those seeking to obtain a grant of probate.
Equally, beneficiaries or persons with an interest in an estate may
wish to ‘freeze’ the granting of probate so that a particular dispute or
issue can be investigated.
4) Disputes about the administration of the estate;
A person can appoint up to four people in a Will to act as executor.
Although executors should remain neutral, there is potential for
disputes to arise between themselves and the beneficiaries during the
administration of an estate. KBL has experience in advising clients
concerning disputes between executors and beneficiaries.
We have particular expertise in advising both regional and national
charities in this specialist technical area of law. Some recent
examples of cases dealt with by KBL include:
- Charity wins with our help:
Successfully defending a claim that a Will was not valid advanced on
the basis that the deseased lacked testamentary capacity. KBL successfully
recovered c. £550,000 for a national charity as a result;
- Representing a sole executor in proceedings to remove him as executor;
- We acted for a national charity who was a beneficiary under a Will
where the main asset of the estate was a property which had been
illegally occupied by third parties. KBL successfully obtained
possession and the charity benefited from the £300,000 sale;
- Representing a charity beneficiary in a dispute where the Will in question was found torn.
The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR)1998 govern all civil procedure in
England and Wales. Parts 57 (Probate and Inheritance) and Part 64
(Estates, Trusts and Charities) deal with court proceedings and claims
concerning probate, Wills, executors, the Inheritance (Provision for
Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and the administration of estates of
For further information on the CPR follow the links below:
Her Majesty's Courts Service has also published guidance on probate.