Contentious probate refers to disputes or legal conflicts that arise in the context of a deceased person’s estate and the process of administering their will or obtaining probate in the United Kingdom. These disputes can involve various parties, including beneficiaries, executors, administrators, and other individuals with an interest in the estate. Contentious probate cases typically revolve around challenges to the validity of a will, disagreements over the distribution of assets, or concerns about the conduct of the executor or administrator.
Here are some common reasons why contentious probate cases may occur in the UK:
1. Will Contests:This is one of the most common forms of contentious probate. It involves challenges to the validity of the deceased person’s will. Parties may dispute the authenticity of the will, claim that the deceased was unduly influenced when creating it, or argue that the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a valid will.
2. Inheritance Act Claims: Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, certain individuals can make claims against an estate if they believe that the deceased did not adequately provide for them in the will. This can lead to disputes over the distribution of assets.
3. Executor Disputes:Conflicts can arise when beneficiaries or interested parties have concerns about the conduct of the executor or administrator of the estate. This may include allegations of mismanagement, breaches of fiduciary duty, or conflicts of interest.
4. Asset Disputes:Disagreements may occur over the identification, valuation, or distribution of specific assets within the estate, such as property, investments, or personal belongings.
5. Disputes Amongst Beneficiaries:Beneficiaries named in the will may have disagreements among themselves regarding the division of assets, leading to contentious probate cases.
6. Disputes Over Trusts: If the deceased had established trusts as part of their estate planning, disputes can arise over the administration of these trusts and the distribution of trust assets.
7. Fraud or Forgery Allegations:In some cases, allegations of fraud or forgery related to the will or estate documents can trigger contentious probate proceedings.
Resolving contentious probate cases can be complex and often involves legal proceedings in the courts. Parties may seek legal advice and representation to protect their interests and navigate the legal process. It’s essential for individuals involved in contentious probate matters to consult with experienced solicitors who specialize in probate and estate litigation to understand their rights and options under UK law.