Finding a solicitor in the UK who is experienced in contentious probate and contested wills is not an easy task. There are two main categories of solicitors in the UK – those that do court work or those that do not do court work. The two disciplines are rarely found in the same person. While there seems to be a certain mindset that a lawyer is one or the other however there are times when both sets of skills are required. A solicitor whose work consists of wills and probate has little need for recourse to the civil courts however when the occasion arises, where a case does need to go to court it will usually be transferred to the law firms litigation department. The downside to this is that the litigation department probably has little experience in this type of work and probably normally deals with road traffic accidents and business disputes.
In the whole of the UK there are very few contentious probate solicitors who regularly deal with court disputes, so it is a difficult task finding an experienced lawyer. Selecting a high-profile solicitor with little or no experience in this field would be a huge risk. That is where we come in. Our very small panel of solicitors is experienced in both fields, offering a very specialized service. If you would like advice on any of these matters just contact a contentious probate solicitor who will discuss your needs and usually give advice at no charge and without further obligation. If you are having difficulty contacting a specialist contentious probate solicitor you should consider contacting The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) who will recommend you to an independent qualified solicitor who specialises in these matters. The ACTAPS website (eee.actaps.com) has sections showing a listing of members, practice guidance notes and code of practice, a membership directory and how to make contact. Solicitor members of ACTAPS can take advantage of professional development courses.
Most UK contentious probate solicitors will give free initial advice on potential litigation when a will is invalid, has been lost or destroyed or when there is inadequate provision for a dependent of the deceased. Some of the matters that often give rise to litigation involving contentious probate and contested wills are outlined below :-
- For a will to be valid it must be made by an adult who has not suffered undue influence and who is not mentally ill. The document must be signed or acknowledged to have been signed in the presence of two independent witnesses who must also sign.
- Dependents can expect continued support after death. If support was given to a spouse, a partner, a child or a disabled person and adequate provision was not made then that person can take legal action.
- If a will has been lost the registry may accept a copy of a will usually after a full court hearing where a judge listens to evidence to establish whether or not the will was revoked by destruction.