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Disputed wills, Trusts and Estates solicitors

A dispute over a family member's estate can be a difficult and emotional time. You need timely, efficient and expert resolution of the dispute. Our leading disputed wills, trusts and estates solicitors can help.

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Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners

The right trust arrangement can protect your wealth for future generations. Unfortunately, many people fail to put their affairs in order before they pass away. The result can be that their families fall out over who should inherit what and there can also be questions over the validity of Wills.

Even when careful planning has taken place, things can go wrong. Executors of estates and Trustees of trusts may not carry out their duties correctly or may disagree amongst themselves about how to proceed. Sometimes, court action may be required to resolve disputes. On death, it may become apparent that someone who was supposed to be looking after the deceased’s affairs during their lifetime (the Attorney) wasn't doing so correctly. This can lead to the Executors challenging steps taken by the Attorney.

Our Disputed Wills, Trust and Estates solicitors have vast experience of all these disputes but, more importantly, we know how to avoid them in the first place. Drawing on expertise from across the firm, we aim to resolve issues as smoothly as possible, at what can be a very trying time.

Our expert Will dispute solicitors are based in both England and Wales and Scotland.

Frequently asked questions

  • Is there a Will?

    There is no obligation to register a Will in England and Wales although voluntary registration schemes are available.  Various companies will undertake a search for a Will at a cost but if a Will is not revealed, it does not necessarily mean that a Will was not made. Enquiries may be made with a known family members and friends who might be aware of a Will along with any local solicitors that might have prepared a Will for the person who has died.

  • How do I obtain a copy of the Will?

    If an individual has died and you have not been provided with a copy of the Will you may wish to find out who benefits from their estate. The will could be provided by agreement with the executor who should have been provided with a Will on the death of the testator. All beneficiaries have a right to know that they are a beneficiary of a Will.

    If an executor won’t provide a copy of the Will then a search, called a standing search, can be lodged at the Probate Registry. If a Will has been prepared it would be made public when a Grant of Probate is applied for.  A standing search can be entered by completing a simple form, available online, on payment of a small fee.  The standing search remains in place for six months and you will be notified if a Grant of Probate is issued during that time.  The standing search can be extended at the end of the six month period.

  • What happens if there is no Will?

    If the deceased died without leaving a valid Will their estate would be administered under the Intestacy Rules. These rules dictate who inherits the estate and in what shares. In general terms, those entitled to inherit are surviving spouses and children. If there is no surviving spouse or children then parents, siblings and more distant blood relatives would inherit.

  • I am a family member who has been cut out of a Will. Can I claim?

    If you haven’t been left anything or very little under a Will (or on an intestacy) then you may be able to claim. In England and Wales it would be under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 which is commonly referred to as the Inheritance Act

    Husbands, wives, civil partners, ex-spouses, cohabitees, dependants and children of the deceased are all entitled to claim.  Our expert team would be happy to discuss how to make a claim under a Will if you have not been named as a beneficiary.

    Claims can also be brought in Scotland under different legislation.

  • Can I contest or challenge a Will?

    In certain circumstances you can contest the validity of a Will if you believe it was made as a result of undue influence, or where the deceased lacked mental capacity to prepare a Will or did not know of and approve of the contents of the Will.


  • How do I stop an estate being administered if I want to contest the Will?

    If you do not agree that a Will is valid and believe there are grounds for contesting a Will then the first step to take is to ensure that a caveat is entered at the Probate Registry which would prevent a Grant of Probate being taken out. This would give you time to investigate the circumstances of the Will being prepared before a grant is provided which would allow the executor to administer the estate.

    It is important that a caveat is only entered in appropriate circumstances where you wish to contest the validity of a Will or there is a serious question as to who should apply for the Grant of Probate. If a caveat is entered for any other purpose, that may be an abuse of the procedure and there could be potential costs consequences.

  • I am a child of the deceased but I am now an adult. Can I claim?

    Adult children are eligible to make a claim under the Inheritance Act in England and Wales, but not all claims succeed. The court will only make an award if it is satisfied that the particular circumstances of the case justify it.  Early advice should be taken.

  • I am a beneficiary of a Will and I am unhappy about how the estate is being managed. Can I do anything?

    The first thing to consider is to try to resolve any concerns with the executor of the estate.  It is also possible to apply for an inventory and account for information about the extent of the estate.  As a last resort, you can apply to remove or replace an executor if they are acting unreasonably in the administration of an estate.  The removal of an executor would involve a court hearing and evidence would need to be provided about the way the administration of the estate has been handled if the executor will not agree to stand down voluntarily.


  • How long do I have to contest a Will?

    There are certain time limits to contest a Will but these are dependant on the individual circumstances of each case and the grounds you wish to contest. If you are submitting a claim under the Inheritance Act in England and Wales the time limit is 6 months from the date Probate was granted. Although the time limits for contesting a Will would depend on the specific circumstances of each case, generally speaking, the sooner you act the better.

  • Will I have to go to court to challenge a Will or trust?

    You would not normally need to go to court if the proceedings are uncontested or if you are able to settle the dispute.  All our solicitors are highly trained in alternative dispute resolution and mediation and we have a high success rate of settling disputes without the need for court proceedings. If we are unable to settle the case you may need to attend court to provide evidence in relation to your dispute. 

  • What is mediation?

    Mediation is a voluntary process where each party agrees to try and settle a dispute without going to court.  If the mediation fails, then the parties can still proceed to court and details of what was discussed at mediation would not be disclosed or used within the court hearing.  The terms of any discussions occurring in mediation are entirely confidential.  Mediation can be used as an alternative to court proceedings at any stage in the proceedings or before proceedings have begun but the process is entirely voluntary.

  • Who pays the legal costs?

    A will dispute can be settled before proceedings are issued or at any time prior to a final hearing. If the dispute is not settled and the matter proceeds to a final hearing then the court will decide how costs are to be paid. An assessment at court will determine the level of the bill to be paid and who should pay those costs. The normal rules are that the unsuccessful party would pay the successful party’s costs. We would provide you with a detailed costs estimate so that you know how much the legal costs are likely to be from the outset.

    In appropriate cases we can work under deferred fee arrangements or conditional fee agreements (no win no fee). We also have good connections with litigation funders who could consider whether they would be prepared to provide funding for your claim. We have full flexibility with our fee structures to make sure that you can choose the most appropriate fee structure that would work for you.

  • During the deceased’s lifetime they made suspicious or excessive gifts of money or property to third parties. Is there anything I can do?

    If the gifts were made while the deceased was susceptible to undue influence or was in a vulnerable position, for example due to illness or if they had reduced mental capacity, then it is possible to make an application to set aside the gifts and return any property or money to the estate.

Free consultation

Ready for the next step? Talk to our expert disputed wills, trusts and estates solicitors.

Book now

Key contact

Meet our experts
Matthew Morton
Matthew Morton

Principal Associate

+44 (0)113 213 4052 Email Matthew
Arshoo Singh
Arshoo Singh


+44 (0)20 7227 7329 Email Arshoo

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