Managing a loved one’s estate after their death can be an extremely difficult process, and probate is one of the main issues that you will have to deal with during the process. What can make this process a whole lot harder is the disputes that can often follow. Van Eaton are probate dispute solicitors based in London who are skilled in making this difficult process run much smoother, and we will do our best to ensure that you get the result you want as promptly as possible.
Are you looking to settle an estate dispute, but aren’t sure where to start? Read our article below to see how we can help you
What is Contentious Probate?
Probate is the financial and legal process of dealing with a deceased person’s assets (property, money, and possessions). Before the executor of the will or next of kin can claim their estates, they must apply for a grant of probate.
When probate has been granted either by the grant or letters of administration, the executor or next of kin can start dealing with their assets in line with the details of their will. If the deceased didn’t leave a Will, the law decides who the assets go to. If you wish to contest this, read our article here.
Contentious probate concerns any dispute relating to the administration of the estate of a deceased person. Disputes can involve issues such as the value of an estate’s assets, the interpretation of a deceased person’s will, or disputes between beneficiaries or executors.
Probate disputes often occur between family members and other applicable relatives who believe that they have been left out of a will if they don’t think they’ve inherited what they’re entitled to, plus many more reasons.
The Probate Procedure
When applying for probate there are five main stages that you must go through before obtaining a deceased person’s assets. They include:
Itemising all the deceased’s assets and their liabilities (for example, any debts they may have had), to work out the value of their estate. This also includes verifying entitlement to the Estate in accordance with the deceased’s Will or Intestacy Rules if they died intestate (without making a will) and find the relevant documentation for the beneficiaries.
If relevant, you must pay inheritance tax to HM Revenue & Customs and submitting the correct return if there is any tax due. You must also apply for the Grant of Representation, which is a document confirming that the administrator of the estate has the legal authority to do so.
After the Probate Registry has administered the Grant of Representation, you must ensure that the deceased assets have been sold. If you need to settle their liabilities, you must pay the final Estate administration expenses and account to HMRC for any further inheritance tax, as well as any income tax or capital gains tax that are payable.
Document any payments made in and out of the estate by preparing the relevant documentation, which shows how much is left to distribute to the beneficiaries. They must then be sent to the personal representatives, such as the next of kin, for approval.
Transfer any assets that the beneficiaries would like to keep, and distribute the estate’s funds, provided that no one has challenged the estate and nothing else is preventing distribution.
Typical probate disputes
There are a range of reasons why probate may be disputed. A few main examples are:
Disputes over the distribution or administration of a deceased person’s estate. This applies when there is reason to believe that those appointed refuse to organise the estate, do it incorrectly, stall for time, or attempt to use the money and assets from an estate for their own personal gain and purposes.
Validity of the will. Sometimes, the reliability of the will is brought into question. A party may argue that the will was not signed, or a witness was not present, that the deceased person was not of sound mind or did not have the mental capacity to make a will, that they were being forced into making a will, were not aware or did not approve the contents, or that a valid Will had already been made.
Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This act allows a court to provide reasonable financial provision out of a deceased’s estate to someone with a valid claim who may financially struggle if they don’t benefit from the estate. The Act applies whether a Will has been made or not. You can read more about this Act and whether you qualify for a claim here.
The will needs to be clarified. Even though a will may be valid, it may contain a mistake or a provision that is hard to understand or doesn’t make sense. Only under specific circumstances will a court allow a will to be changed or seek to work out exactly what a clause will entail
When is probate required?
You need to obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration when:
The deceased owned property, such as land or buildings and/or
Had monies in a bank or building society (this is usually required when the assets are worth more than a specific threshold set by that bank or building society).
Handling probate disputes is never a pleasant experience, but Van Eaton solicitors are here to help ease the strain and get you the result you want as promptly as possible.
If you wish to contest a will on any of the grounds that we previously listed, Van Eaton are contentious probate dispute solicitors who can provide reliable legal advice and help you to resolve your issue and will guide you towards your desired outcome if possible.
For more information, give us a call on 07736790321. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form.