Disputes over Wills (Contentious Probate)
Disputes over Wills of the division of a loved one’s estate are often complex and emotionally charged, making them challenging to resolve in a way that works for everyone involved.
While you may be concerned that court proceedings are the only way forward, in most cases even highly contentious probate disputes can be resolved out-of-court with the assistance of the right legal team.
At Atkins Hope, we have a team of experienced dispute resolution solicitors who can assist you with finding a positive way forward for a dispute over a Will or how an estate is to be distributed.
With a strong focus on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) we can typically achieve a solution through negotiation and other non-confrontational methods, however we also have strong expertise with court proceedings where required.
Remember, there are time limits to challenging a Will, so if you have a dispute about a Will or about how your family member’s estate is to be distributed then it is important you obtain expert advice from a solicitor as soon as possible.
To find out more or to book an appointment with our contentious probate solicitors, please call 0208 680 5018 and ask for Sherry Fard, or you can email her at
Common questions about Will disputes & contentious probate
What is Contentious Probate?
Contentious Probate in simple terms is where there is a disagreement after someone has died about what happens to their estate i.e. the money, property and personal items that belonged to the deceased and that is left to be distributed after their death.
You may be concerned that your deceased family member did not leave you or another family member what they said they were going to leave or you may have concerns about the Will and whether it was drafted correctly, whether it reflected the deceased’s wishes and also whether the deceased were well and able enough to make decisions about their estate.
If you have concerns about a Will and/or the way the deceased’s estate was distributed, then it is important that you seek professional help and legal advice. It is also important that you act quickly. Only certain family members can dispute a Will or make a claim for part of the deceased’s estate and we will be able to advise you about this in your initial call.
What grounds are there for contesting a Will?
There are four main reasons for contesting a Will:
The Will was not prepared properly – For example, if it was not signed and witnessed properly or the person making the Will was not of sound mind when the Will was made.
The Will is out-of-date – Where you believe there is a more recent version of the Will that should be used instead.
The Will is fraudulent – Someone has intentionally created a false Will that does not reflect that deceased’s wishes.
The Will does not make ‘reasonable provision’ for you – Dependants of the deceased may be entitled to claim ‘reasonable provision’ from the estate by making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Exactly who can claim and what is considered ‘reasonable’ will depend on the circumstances.
Is there a time limit for contesting a Will?
This will depend on the type of claim you are making.
For Inheritance Act claims, you will usually have 6 months from grant of probate or letters of administration.
There is no time limit for challenging a Will on the grounds of fraud.
In general, however, it is easier to challenge a Will before probate or letters of administration have been granted.
Can you contest a Will after probate?
While it is usually still possible to challenge a Will after probate has been granted, and even after the estate has been distributed, it is often easier to resolve these matters before grant of probate.
If you wish to stop probate from being granted, you can ‘enter a caveat’ at your local Probate Registry for a small fee, which will prevent grant of probate for the next six months (or until the caveat is withdrawn by you). You can renew this caveat as many times as you like, effectively allowing you to delay probate indefinitely.
Entering a caveat and delaying probate in this way can give you the time you need to find a solution to your dispute.