When a person passes away, their estate needs to be properly administered and any assets distributed in accordance with their Will or, in the absence of a Will, the laws of intestacy. However, as people live longer and family relationships become more complex it is increasingly common for disputes to arise during the probate process. Specialized Contentious Probate Services can lead to what is known as ‘contentious probate’ and these are best tackled by specialist solicitors with expertise in this area.
What is the difference between contested and contentious?
Specialist contentious probate lawyers are able to assess the merits of a claim at an early stage and can often assist in resolving claims through mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods. However, if court proceedings are needed they can also support you throughout negotiations with the claimant and represent you in court action to ensure that your interests are represented effectively and fairly.
It is important to note that there are strict time limits on bringing claims, usually six months from the date of a Grant of Probate or from the death of the deceased (known as ‘the stopwatch’). As such it is crucial to seek specialist advice from a qualified contentious probate solicitor at an early stage.
Many specialist contentious probate solicitors will be members of ACTAPS (the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists) or STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners). This means that you will be working with a lawyer who has extensive experience of handling these types of claims and can provide detailed, considered advice which might not be available from non-specialist firms.