Wills, Trusts and Estate Disputes Solicitors
Inheritance disputes can be time consuming and stressful, with the potential for a very negative impact on important family relationships if the right approach is not taken. However, with careful handling, it is often possible to resolve will, trust and estate disputes amicably, saving you time and legal costs while avoiding unnecessary conflict and emotional fallout.
If you are considering contesting a will or need to raise an issue with a trust or the conduct of an executor, please do seek the advice of a specialist first to ensure the best possible outcome.
Our professional and personable team have a long record of success and depth of experience. We have a thorough understanding of the unique procedures that need to be followed when dealing with inheritance disputes, so can ensure your dispute is handled expertly and efficiently to help you achieve the outcome you need as quickly as possible.
We can help with all types of wills, trusts and estate disputes, including:
- Questioning the validity of a will
- Inheritance Act claims
- Will fraud
- Disputes over which version of a will should be used
- Disputes over how an executor is handling probate
- Trust disputes
- All other contentious probate matters
We will keep your interests at heart during what is often an emotionally charged time and consider empathy and our ability to build a close rapport with our clients of the utmost importance.
The team is headed by Nadia Cowdrey, who is ranked in Chambers & Partners High Net Worth and the Legal 500. Nadia Cowdrey is a member of the Association of Contested Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) and the Private Client team are accredited by the Law Society for Wills & Inheritance Quality.
We offer a free 30-minute consultation to help you decide if you have a claim in relation to a will, trust or estate dispute.
Speak to our contentious probate team now
Why choose Griffith Smith for your will, trust or estate dispute?
Decades of experience
Our inheritance disputes solicitors offer decades of combined experience handling all types of disputes over wills, trusts and estates. We can therefore offer seasoned expertise with a thorough understanding of the issues that can arise and the best ways to handle them, so you get the outcome you need as quickly, cost-effectively and amicably as possible.
Independently recognised expertise
We are ranked Tier 3 in the South East for Contentious Trusts and Probate by the Legal 500 and the firm is ranked Band 3 for Private Wealth Law by Chambers & Partners, while our Head of Private Client, Nadia Cowdrey, is ranked Bank 2. We are also accredited by the Law Society for Wills & Inheritance Quality.
Exceptional personal service
Inheritance disputes can be confusing and stressful, so we aim to offer the best possible support to you and your loved ones. We will always answer your questions in plain English and provide regular updates on progress, making sure your concerns are always listened to and addressed promptly.
A tailored approach to match your priorities
When dealing with a dispute over a will, trust or estate, there are often various complex issues to consider, including the potential damage to important family relationships. We will always match our approach to your goals and concerns, including avoiding unnecessary conflict wherever possible.
Free initial consultation
We offer a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your circumstances and advise on whether we believe you have grounds for a successful claim. We can then talk you through your legal options and the likely costs involved.
Frequently Asked Questions about will, trust and estate disputes
When there is a lack of legal formalities. A will must be in writing, signed by the testator (the person making the will) and witnessed by two others for it to be a valid legal document.
When there is lack of testamentary capacity. This is the legal term used to describe a person’s legal and mental ability to make a Will. We can assist you if you believe the testator did not understand that they were making a will or, the effects the will might have.
Lack of knowledge and approval. The testator didn’t know or didn’t approve what was in the will.
Fraud or undue influence. An imposter or person taking advantage of a position of power over the testator had an influence in the making of the will.
Subsequent revocation. If there is a later will or the testator married after making the will.
Proprietary estoppel. This is a legal claim that can be made when the testator failed to keep a promise that they made to you (which you had relied upon to your detriment) to leave something to you in their will.
Constructive trust. The deceased tried to make a gift of property that does not belong to them because it has already been placed in a trust.
Debt. The deceased owed you money.
Lack of reasonable provision. Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act, certain people may be able to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from a deceased person’s estate if the will did not make any provision for you at all or that provision was not reasonable. There is a strict six-month time limit for making this claim and there are only certain family members who can make a claim. We can provide you with full advice on whether you are entitled to make a claim and your chances of success.
Yes, potentially. If you have an interest in the estate or you are a creditor of the estate, you may make an application to the court to remove, substitute and appoint additional executors.
Where you are unhappy with the conduct of an executor, it is always a good idea to consult a legal expert first to make sure you clear on your legal position. In many cases, executor disputes can be resolved amicably by talking to the executor in a calm, reasonable way and making your concerns clear.
Should you need to have an executor removed, it is often a good idea to replace them with a professional executor such as a solicitor to make sure the rest of the estate administration process is carried out correctly and efficiently.
Yes, you can prevent probate being granted by entering a caveat with your local probate registry. This prevents probate from being granted for at least 6 months unless the caveat is removed before that time.
The caveat can only be removed by you or by the executor applying to have it removed, in which case you will have the chance to explain your reasons for wanting to delay probate. It will then be up to a court to decide whether the caveat should remain in place or be removed.
This depends on the type of dispute. If you are making an Inheritance Act claim, you have 6 months from grant of probate to do so. If you are a beneficiary and wish to make a claim, you will have 12 years from the date of death. In cases of suspected fraud, there is no time limit for making a claim.
That said, it is usually better if you can raise a dispute before probate is granted as you have the option to enter a caveat and hold up probate until your concerns are dealt with. It will also normally be much easier to settle a dispute amicably before assets from the estate have been distributed.
- A beneficiary under a previous Will
- Someone who would be entitled to benefit from the Estate via the Intestacy Rules
- Someone who is owed money by the Deceased
- Someone who was promised something by the Deceased
- Someone who may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, for provision or greater provision to be made for them from an estate.
In order to be eligible to bring a claim under the Inheritance (PFD) Act 1975 you must be one of the following:
- A spouse or civil partner of the Deceased
- A former spouse or civil partner of the Deceased who has not remarried or formed a new civil partnership
- A person (not being a spouse, former spouse, civil partner, or former civil partner) who for the whole of a period of two years ending before the Deceased died was living in the same household with the Deceased as if they were a married couple or civil partners.
- A child of the Deceased
- Any person (not being a child of the Deceased) who was treated by the Deceased as a child of the family
- Any person who immediately before the death of the Deceased was being maintained either wholly or partly by the Deceased.