Dealing with contentious probateThe death of a loved one or family member is one of the most painful situations we have to deal with.

So the last thing anyone wants at a time like this is a family row over the deceased’s property, money and possessions.

When someone dies, you need to apply for a ‘grant of representation’ – or probate. This basically gives you the legal right to deal with their estate, like accessing bank accounts for example. A will usually sets out who’s responsible for doing this – if one hasn’t been made, it normally falls to the next of kin.

Whenever there’s a dispute over inheritance, or the legitimacy of someone’s will, it’s known as contentious probate.

For instance, you may want to challenge the will if you feel the person was forced into adding certain details. Or you might think they didn’t have the mental capacity to make the will – perhaps if they were suffering from dementia.

It also applies to situations where you don’t want to challenge the will itself, but feel you’ve been left less than you were promised or entitled to. And, similarly, if you believe the person responsible for organising the estate hasn’t done so, or has made mistakes.

These situations are often difficult to sort out – particularly if the estate involves a family home, other property, land, business assets, investments trusts or foreign assets. And it’s easy to understand how they can develop into upsetting and stressful family arguments. In fact, contentious probate cases have increased sharply in recent years.

The most effective way to avoid them is to get in touch with an experienced probate solicitor as soon as possible.

Contentious probate is often a legal minefield and a specialist solicitor will explain the complexities and processes sensitively and in simple terms. They’ll have the expertise to give sound advice on what to do if someone’s challenging a will, or if you feel you’re entitled to more inheritance than you’ve received.

If you would like to talk to someone in our highly experienced and approachable Private Client team please call the teams new client co-ordinator’s Jacqui Neate or Kate Oakden on 01626 202 366 or via email; jacquineate@wbw.co.uk or kateoakden@wbw.co.uk