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What is contentious probate?

View profile for David Rogerson
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Contentious probate refers to any disputes about an individual's estate when they are no longer here. This process can be difficult for families and lead to many mixed feelings, but understanding when an estate can be contested can help answer many questions, and make a troubling time less confusing for all.

This article will look at what contentious probate is and how a solicitor can help you do what is best for you and your loved ones.

What is contentious probate, and why do I need a solicitor?

Contentious probate in the UK refers to a legal dispute that arises when the validity of a will or the distribution of an estate is called into question. For example, this can happen when a family member or other interested party feels that they have not been fairly treated in the will, or they suspect that the will was made under duress or without proper legal formalities – both reasons that can invalidate the contents.

In such cases, a solicitor can play a crucial role in representing their client's interests and helping to resolve the dispute. This may involve advising on the legal options available to the client, such as contesting the will, negotiating a settlement with other beneficiaries, or seeking a court order to protect their client's interests.

Contentious probate disputes

Contentious probate disputes can happen for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • 'Further provisions' – this is common among spouses and children who feel they should have received more from the deceased's will, especially if they were financially dependent on them under legislation.
  • Issues with executors of the will, such as a disagreement regarding the appointment or actions of one.
  • Lifetime gifts and promises.
  • Mistakes and disagreements, such as a dispute over the correct ownership of property or the value of an asset.

Contentious probate when there is no will

In the UK, when someone dies without leaving a valid will, it is known as intestacy. In such cases, the law sets out who should inherit the deceased person's assets. However, this can still lead to disputes between family members or others close to the deceased, especially if significant assets are involved or questions about the deceased's wishes. These disputes are still considered to be contentious probate, and you should always contact a solicitor if you feel the will or the estate is not being correctly handled. 


If you need legal advice in relation to this, or any other legal or financial matter, please contact your local office, or complete our online enquiry form.