We get to the heart of the matter, resolving disputes.

Contentious Probate

Contentious probate is an umbrella term for disputes relating to the administration of a person’s estate after they die.

The death of someone close will always be a sad and stressful time for the family and loved ones. However, it can be the catalyst for the release of family tensions and disagreements that have been smoldering under the surface for many years. These disputes typically arise in the aftermath of the death of a loved one sometimes even before the funeral. The idea of contesting a will is for many unthinkable, but this situation is not always avoidable.

There can be a number of reasons why you might want to contest a will such as:

  • The terms of the will are not what you expected or in the terms the deceased had explained to you during their lifetime.
  • You have been excluded or treated less favourably to other family members.
  • Substantial sums have been left to charities or friends you were unaware the deceased had close connections with.
  • The dispute may not relate to the will or how the estate is divided but to how the deceased’s money has been used in the years prior to their death.
  • Where large gifts have been made that are suspicious or unexplained.
  • The dispute can also relate to the actions or inactions of the personal representatives.

Whatever the situation we can provide clear and pragmatic advice, and making an early assessment in order to identify the key issues in the dispute. We offer a variety of cost options to include conditional fees and seek to find a solution that is tailor-made for your situation. Our team has many years’ experience in resolving all types of disputes that arise after death.

What is the time limit to make my contentious probate claim?

If you are looking to contest probate under the Inheritance Act, then you should do this as soon as possible, and at least within 6 months of the grant of probate being granted. This can be extended in certain limited circumstances. Strictly, there is no time limit for disputing a will particularly if there is fraud involved, but it is very important to act prior to the grant of probate if possible to prevent the estate from being distributed.

Will I have to go to court for contentious probate?

Most will disputes in common with other forms of dispute are resolved out of court through negotiation and mediation. We are experienced in all forms of alternative dispute resolution to particularly mediation and early neutral evaluation which are the types most used in these disputes. This is usually faster, cheaper, and can reduce more conflict than is necessary. Mediation is much less formal than court proceedings and the mediator will always look to set a non-adversarial tone in the meetings. The meetings will always be conducted in a way that the parties wish and are most comfortable with.

Who is responsible to pay for contentious probate application and how much does it cost?

Court proceedings should be the last resort; we will always seek to achieve an outcome by negotiation or some other form of dispute resolution prior to the commencement of proceedings. Costs in these disputes are the same as most other forms of litigation in that the losing party will generally be ordered to pay their own and the other parties’ costs.

How our experience can help

If you have concerns relating to the administration of a deceased person’s estate, we can help.  If you would like to talk to one of our experts call Jim McGarrity on 01908 689331 or email jmcgarrity@geoffreyleaver.com.

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Inheritance, Wills & Trust Disputes Team

  • Jim McGarrity Consultant | Solicitor Advocate
    Private Client Services 01908 689331 | 07711 498186
    Jim has over 40 years' experience in the law and specialises in will, probate, trust and inheritance disputes and court of protection cases.


  • Dagmara Kulczykowska Partner
    Private Client Services 01908 689341
    Dagmara is Head of the Department and has many years of experience in all aspects of private client work. Dagmara’s strengths are working with families on very sensitive and emotive matters, providing them with specialist legal advice. She ensures clients are supported but also advised clearly and comprehensively on the legal issue(s) at hand so that they can make an informed decision.


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