contentious probate

A dispute over someone's Will, estate, or inheritance can be difficult to deal with. Be assured we have the expertise to support you through.

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Recognised experience

Our solicitors have worked on a huge range of probate dispute cases and are recognised by The Legal 500, a top independent legal guide to UK law firms.

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Contested probate advice with compassion

We listen to you and explain how to contest a Will or dispute an estate with compassion.

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Whole firm expertise and knowledge

We draw upon the knowledge of colleagues across the firm to cover all eventualities.

Wills, inheritance and trust disputes

The loss of a loved one is incredibly hard and issues relating to how their estate was managed or distributed can be even more difficult.

If you have a friend or family member and feel like their estate hasn’t been properly handled by executors, attorneys, or professionals, we can help with a claim for contentious probate.

Over recent years, there has been a significant increase in claims relating to estates and will disputes. Reasons for growth in contentious probate disputes include an ageing population with more complex family arrangements, the coronavirus pandemic, and an increase in homemade Wills - which sadly often do not comply with the specific requirements for a valid Will.

With the costs of living sharply rising, people are becoming increasingly reliant on receiving inheritance as their own finances face pressure. 

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How can we help your contentious probate dispute?

Our dedicated team have extensive experience dealing with a broad range of claims relating to estate and trust disputes, in addition to proven success rates for contesting a Will, covering high net value and more modest estates both locally and nationally.

The distribution of estates can be extremely complicated, particularly when multiple properties and assets are involved. Our contentious probate solicitors have specialist knowledge of established trusts, complex wealth structures, and rural agriculture estates.

Our team advises both claimants and defendants - whether executors, administrators, trustees, or beneficiaries. We understand the emotion that these types of claims bring and deal with them with empathy and sensitivity.

  1. Contest a Will

    Challenging the validity of the Will, for example if a person lacked the necessary mental capacity to make a Will, was subject to undue influence or the Will was not properly witnessed.

  2. Inheritance Act claims

    If you have not been reasonably provided for under a Will or if you have been left out of a will entirely.

  3. Disputed lifetime gifts

    If a person made a gift during their lifetime but did not have the mental capacity to make the gift.

  4. Constructions claims

    Where the terms of a Will are not understood.

  5. Rectification claims

    Where the terms of a Will do not reflect a person’s instructions/intentions.

  6. Estoppel claims

    We have extensive experience of these claims, particularly within a farming context.

    These types of cases arise from someone making a promise that they shall leave a particular asset to that person, but then does not follow through with that promise in their Will. For example, a promise that a farm or part of a farm shall be left to the person, who usually then dedicates their working life to the farm to find upon the death of the promiser, the farm has been left to others.

  7. Professional negligence

    Against a solicitor who prepared a Will but did not get the Will right.

  8. Trust & executors disputes

    Claims for and against trustees and executors arising from their handling of a trust or a Will including the removal of trustees and executors.

  9. Financial abuse claims

    A claim that a vulnerable person has been taken advantage of resulting in a loss to their estate.

Our contentious probate experts

Katherine Marshall is a member of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists as well as the Professional Negligence Lawyer’s Association.

She has the support of colleagues in our Wills, estates, tax & trusts team, many of whom are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

Meet the team

Frequently asked questions

  1. What is contentious probate?

    Contentious probate refers to any dispute about how someone’s estate is handled after their death. It could include a dispute over the interpretation of a Will, disagreements between executors and beneficiaries, or confusion over the worth of assets.

    Will disputes, estoppel claims, and financial abuse claims all fall under the umbrella of this legal term.

  2. Do I have to go to court to make a claim for contentious probate?

    We are aware that lives are busy and so we are happy to offer flexible appointments outside usual working hours. We can also offer virtual appointments to save you the cost and time of travel.

  3. Who can make a contentious probate claim?

    As there are many different types of claims under the contentious probate umbrella, we have also helped executors, trustees, and disappointed beneficiaries pursue a claim. Get in touch with our team to find out if you can dispute a Will in your circumstances.

  4. Which courts deal with contentious probate?

    Both the County Court and High Court has jurisdiction in relation to probate matters. Usually, The Chancery Division deals with contentious probate.

  5. How much does it cost to contest a Will in the UK?

    We are conscious that legal costs are often the key factor in the decision whether to pursue a contentious probate claim. We can offer a variety of funding options, not simply limited to a private fee-paying basis.

    We frequently offer alternative funding arrangements including “no win no fee”, deferred payment, and fixed fee basis. Our contentious probate solicitors are always happy to have an open and frank discussion with you on the issue of costs, considering your personal circumstances and the particular facts of your claim.

  6. How long does contentious probate take?

    Timescales for contentious probate claims can vary, depending on the particular concern being pursued. In most cases, we would advise you to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

  7. Do you offer virtual appointments?

    We are aware that lives are busy and so we are happy to offer flexible appointments outside usual working hours. We can also offer virtual appointments to save you the cost and time of travel.

Working with other probate professionals

As a dedicated Will disputes team, we offer support to other probate professionals such as Will writing companies and accountancy firms who may not have litigation support within their own organisation.

If you are a professional and require assistance with ongoing estate administration or a contentious probate issue that arises, we are happy to advise and be as involved as you require. We are happy to provide 'background' support, or, if necessary, to act in the distinct aspect of the case, leaving the administration of the estate with you.

Alternatively, you may be a law firm that requires separate representation for a client. We regularly take referrals from other firms both locally and nationally to provide advice and representation to existing and new clients.

Firms feel comfortable in referring clients to us in the knowledge that we shall not actively cross-sell other areas of work to them.

Quick contact form

Submit an enquiry and one of our team of experts will be in touch as soon as possible to discuss your needs.

Or call the contentious probate team on 01522 515015

Katherine Marshall, Wilkin Chapman LLP
Partner Katherine Marshall 01507 430626 Louth
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