Contentious Probate: An Introduction

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Losing a loved one can be an incredibly challenging time. A period in your life that can be made even more trying should probate become contentious.

Probate is the process of administering the estate of the deceased, with a reading of the will being an integral part of probate – should the deceased have left a will. However, leaving a will doesn’t automatically eliminate the possibility of a contentious probate case.


What can cause contention?

The following are all becoming commonplace examples of what can cause a contentious probate claim:

  • The deceased had a second family
  • The deceased had re-married and had children from both marriages fighting over the estate
  • Much of the estate being left to a new partner rather than adult children
  • The deceased had a relationship that nobody knew about and left part of the estate to them
  • Estranged family members who expected an inheritance and received nothing
  • People not being included in the will, or being left a lot less than they expected/needed to live
  • The deceased was coerced into changing their will at the end of their life
  • The deceased not being mentally capable of creating their will when they did

The list could go on, and it is a list that is growing all the time. Contentious probate is becoming a much bigger topic in the legal world and cases are significantly on the rise.


A changing world

Modern trends such as people living longer, second marriages, cohabitation, and relationships outside of marriage, can all give rise to potential problems when it comes to inheritance.

Another major contributor to the rise in contentious probate cases is the fact that people are becoming more aware of their rights if they feel their inheritance is unjust.

As important as having a will is, it isn’t the judge, jury, and executioner. What the deceased chose to include and exclude from your inheritance can be challenged.

In some cases, the deceased won’t have prepared a will, which makes contentious probate more likely and the case a lot more complex. If the deceased has no will, they will have died intestate. This can present a particular problem for cohabiting couples as cohabitees aren’t automatically entitled to anything under intestate rules.

The world is changing, and as it does probate becomes more and more complex. It isn’t just lifestyle changes of the modern day; the ability for people to travel throughout their life can often make even finding their latest will an arduous task. And if a will is found, it isn’t always cut and dry. A will can always be contested, and you can be awarded a settlement.


Making sense of contentious probate

There are a lot of issues for us to unpick for you regarding contentious probate and a single article can’t cover all angles in sufficient depth. Therefore, we will be producing a series of blog posts for you on this topic with a new one being published every month for the next few months as part of our newsletter.

Hopefully this has served as an eye-opening introduction to an incredibly interesting yet serious topic that we think everybody needs to be more aware of. Especially those who have recently lost a loved one and have a lot of unanswered questions about the legitimacy of their inheritance.

Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to catch our important follow up articles on contentious probate.


Need help now?

If any of the above has resonated with you and you would like to discuss your position, please do give us a call. Our Civil Litigation Team is on hand to speak to you straight away. Call our resident expert Alison Rowley on 01282 433 241.