Challenging a Will

Making sure that your relative’s final wishes are respected and the right people inherit

A person’s Will is the key to making sure that their wishes during life are respected after death. It is because Wills are so important that they must comply with strict legal requirements. If the document falls short, the Will can be held invalid and disregarded.

Despite the most careful planning and preparation, disputes can arise when challenging a Will or the validity of trusts.

Challenging a Will can be emotionally fraught, especially when family relationships are involved. It is understandable to want to fight it out until the bitter end to achieve the right outcome. However, this can be expensive and cause permanent damage to relationships.

The advice and support of a team of lawyers specialising in Will disputes can help families find the best possible solutions, while keeping costs low and reducing conflict and stress.

Friendly, sensitive advice to resolve your Will dispute without added stress

Our Will dispute solicitors are on hand to help you challenge a Will or defend a Will challenge.

Our Private Client team (which handles Wills and probate matters) work closely with our Dispute Resolution team to provide swift, effective solutions to a wide range of issues.

Broken promises, handwritten and confusingly drafted Wills, disagreements over who is entitled to what, and concerns about the testator’s state of mind are common problems that can arise. In the most serious cases, there may even be suggestions that the deceased was forced to make the Will or that it’s a forgery.

We typically seek to resolve claims through sensible negotiation or mediation, resorting to litigation only as a last resort. By taking a smart and measured approach to resolving claims, we minimise distress for our clients and also legal costs.

The majority of our clients in this field of work are individuals from all walks of life.  We also act for charities, who believe that they should receive money from an estate.

Speak to our Will dispute resolution solicitors in Hertford

For advice about challenging a Will from our friendly, proactive team, please get in touch.

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How our contentious probate solicitors can help you challenge a Will

We can help you with all kinds of disputes about Wills, including:

  • Challenges to the validity of Wills, trusts or lifetime gifts.
  • Dissolution or administration of a trust.
  • Ownership of property.
  • Inheritance disputes – claims regarding inadequate (or no) provision in a Will, or due to intestacy (i.e. lack of a Will).  These are sometimes referred to as Inheritance Act claims.
  • Disputes based on allegations of negligence, fraud and forgery, undue influence or mental incapacity.

Our specialist solicitors will work to resolve disputes as swiftly and amicably as possible.

Challenging the validity of Wills, trusts or lifetime gifts

Problems with a person’s Will or trusts often do not come to light until after they have died. Likewise, it might not be until you come to deal with the deceased’s final affairs or receive your inheritance that you realise much of the estate was given away during their lifetime.

Grounds for contesting a Will, trust or lifetime gift could include:

  • The Will or trust document was not executed properly – for example, it was not witnessed or signed.
  • The person who made the Will, trust or gift was forced, coerced or pressured into it (this is called ‘undue influence’).
  • The person who made the Will, trust or gift was not of sound mind – they lacked mental capacity due to old age, an illness or an injury.
  • The legal documents were forged or a result of fraud.
  • The person who made the Will or trust was not aware of or did not approve the contents of the legal documents.
  • There are clerical errors in the documents.
  • There is confusion over how to interpret the Will or trust. This is especially common where the documents are homemade and were created without legal advice.

If you are thinking about contesting a Will, trust or lifetime gift, we can provide practical advice about your options and handle the process on your behalf.

We know that it can be devastating to realise that something has gone wrong. The consequences of such issues can cause hardship for many members of the family, for example, where someone ends up being disinherited due to errors in the Will. We can also provide emotional support and a listening ear throughout the process.

Disputes about trusts

We can assist with all problems relating to trusts, including:

  • Disputes amongst trustees
  • Disputes between trustees and beneficiaries (people entitled to the trust property)
  • Disputes amongst beneficiaries
  • Problems with how the trust is being managed and administered
  • Claims for losses, for example, if the trustees poorly invest the trust property and make a loss, or sell trust property at an undervalue
  • Removing and replacing trustees
  • Varying trusts.

We know that trusts can be confusing to wrap your head around, so we’ll take extra care to drop the legal jargon and make our advice easy and straightforward to understand. We’ll make sure that you can make confident decisions about how you want to move forwards, and help you resolve disputes with as little stress as possible.

Disputes about property ownership

At a time when you may be grieving or coming to terms with the loss of someone close to you, getting into a dispute about property ownership can feel overwhelming.

Such cases can be life-changing. For example, you may be at risk of losing the home you shared with the deceased person for years, despite having made financial and emotional contributions over the years.

We have experience of helping people with all types of property ownership issues, including:

  • Advice about your property rights after someone has died.
  • Co-ownership disputes.
  • Claims for an interest in property, such as proprietary estoppel or constructive trust claims.
  • Inheritance claims.
  • Land Registry rectification, which means correcting mistakes on the property title deeds and other documents.

Professional negligence

Professionals such as lawyers and tax advisors have a duty of care to provide correct advice, make sure that the testator’s (person who made the Will) wishes are recorded properly and that the document complies with the law.

We all rightfully expect a lot of the professionals who help us in our day-to-day life, so to discover that a professional has negligently made mistakes is very frustrating.

We assist executors, administrators, beneficiaries, trustees and any other interested parties in making a professional negligence claim to put right any losses caused by a professional. For example, your claim might relate to:

  • Poor Will drafting that does not reflect the deceased’s true wishes and/or results in the document being held invalid.
  • Poor advice in relation to taxes, the probate process, financial valuations or any other issue relating to Will drafting, trusts, lifetime gifts and probate.

Inheritance disputes

If you have been left out of a Will or did not receive as much as you need, you may be able to make a claim for inheritance,(sometimes referred to as an ‘Inheritance Act claim’.

Our inheritance dispute resolution solicitors can provide clear, practical advice about whether you may be able to make a successful claim, being honest about your chances of success and whether you have any other options. We can also handle the entire claims process on your behalf.

Visit our Inheritance Disputes page for more information.

Case Studies

  • Contesting a claim made by a family member against the executors of an estate relating to a provision in the will for a proportion of the estate to be left to charity.  Our advice helped our clients to overcome the claim and ensure the smooth administration of the deceased’s estate.
  • Supporting the beneficiaries of a family will to claim their rightful inheritance.  We helped our clients to defend a claim against them brought by the deceased’s partner concerning a property that constituted part of the estate.  After an unsuccessful mediation, a settlement was reached that allowed our clients access to property that was rightfully theirs.
  • Defending a claim by our client’s brother that our client had pressured his elderly mother to change her will and leave her home to our client only.  At the trial we called the solicitor (from another firm) who had prepared the will.  She told the court that she had met alone with the elderly lady, who the solicitor described as ‘formidable’, and the lady had predicted to her that her disinherited son would try to challenge the change in her will after her death.  The claim against our client was dismissed.

Why trust Longmores with your Will dispute?

Our highly experienced team have the ability to handle even the most complex and hostile Will disputes.

Our Private Client team, Dispute Resolution team and Older and Vulnerable Client team all work closely, applying our particular areas of expertise to provide a tailored level of legal advice and support. We also have a dedicated Property Disputes team, who can assist with Will and property ownership disputes.

Our wide range of niche expertise means that we have been independently recognised for our skills. We are highly ranked for litigation and dispute resolution by both leading client guides, the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

Several of our lawyers are also individually ranked or recommended, including our Head of Dispute Resolution, John Wiblin, our Head of Private Client, Richard Horwood, and our Senior Solicitor specialising in Probate Disputes, Lauren Mackenzie.

We are committed to the continuous development of our skills, so you can trust that we are not only fully up-to-date with the law, but leading the charge in our fields of expertise. Our professional memberships include:

As a dispute resolution-focused team, we have qualified mediators and arbitrators, who can help you resolve your Will challenge as calmly and positively as possible, saving you time, expense and stress.

Visit Our People pages to learn more about our team and their approaches to helping clients like you. Or visit Our Values page to learn more about our firm-wide approach to client care.

Our fees for contested probate

We know that costs will be a major concern for you when challenging a Will or defending a Will challenge. You may have heard how expensive these types of disputes can be. This can be true, particularly where the parties do not have the right advice to help them find a positive resolution.

Our contested Wills and probate solicitors will take all possible steps to minimise costs for you, without compromising the level of service you receive.

We’ll always be upfront and honest about our fees, so you can move forwards with your eyes open with a full understanding of the costs that potentially lie ahead.

We can also agree a budget, so you stay in control of your legal costs. We’ll never exceed your budget without speaking to you first and getting your approval.

Speak to our Will dispute resolution solicitors in Hertford

For advice about challenging a Will from our friendly, proactive team, please get in touch.

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