contentious probate solicitors

Contentious Probate | April 2024

What is Contentious Probate?

Probate is the legal process by which a deceased’s assets are all collected, valued and then distributed to the beneficiaries as stated in the will.

Contentious probate is a legal process where a person disputes the validity or the interpretation of the deceased’s will. Contentious wills and probate can be difficult for families so read this article to find out what will happen if you are considering contesting probate.

Here is a short video explaining what probate is.

What is non contentious probate?

Non-contentious probate is the legal procedure used when there are no disagreements or objections to the will’s legality or the way the estate will be distributed. Non-contentious probate situations involve beneficiaries who are all in accord and no estate-related claims.

The procedure include demonstrating the will’s legality, selecting an executor (if one is not mentioned in the will), and administering the estate, which entails assembling the assets, paying any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries as stated in the will. 

In contrast to contentious probate, which may involve conflicts that require court action to resolve, this sort of probate is the most prevalent and typically uncomplicated and quick to complete.

What Are Non-Contentious Probate Rules?

Once you understand contentious probate meaning, it is important to understand rules associated with non contentious probate rules. The non contentious probate rules 1987 is a set of legislation that was passed in 1987, and they came into effect in 1988. This legislation sets out non-contentious probate rules to be followed during probate proceedings.

The non-contentious probate rules 1987 are used by both the contested probate solicitors and person acting as the representative.

Here is a short video that explains more about contentious probate.

Who is Responsible for the Deceased Estate?


In the event that the deceased left a will then the person named in the will becomes the executor of the estate. Their main duty is to share the estate as outlined in the will.


If the deceased did not leave a will, then the court will appoint an administrator. The administrator applies for a letter of estate administration that enables him to execute the estate.

The letter of estate administration is a court document that gives the administrator legal authority over the decease’s estate. An administrator can be anyone from a next of kin to the closest surviving relatives according to the contentious probate rules.

Who can Bring Forth a Contentious Probate Claim?

For you to be able to launch contentious probate claims you must fit the description of persons who can launch a claim as stated in section 1 of the Inheritance Act of 1975. These include the children and spouse of the recently deceased or a person who lived with the diseased for two years or more prior to their death.

The next step is to figure out, on what grounds you can contest probate. For example, was the deceased of sound mind when he made the will? If not you have a valid reason to file a claim.

non-contentious probate rules

What are the Reasons to Contest a Will?

Before a contested will & estates, you need to know on what grounds can a will be contested.
  • Fraudulent or forged wills – if there is a reason to suspect that the will was either altered or forged, then it is a valid ground to contest the will.
  • Lack of testamentary capacity – for a person to write a will He/she must be of sound mind. If it can be proven that the person was not of sound mind then that forms a valid ground for contesting the will.
  • Undue influence – a person should write the contents of their will out of their own free will. If it can be proved that the contents ware coerced then this can be a valid reason to contest the will.
  • Incorrect execution of the will – this arises when the executor of the will does not do it in accordance with what was stated in the will.

Finally, if a will does not comply with the Wills act 1837 then it is invalid in the eyes of the law.

How long does probate take?

How long does it take to contest a will? If you have grounds to contest a will, then you should do it early enough. This is done to place the executor on notice before the inheritance is distributed.

If you want to contest a will using the inheritance act, the time limit is 6 months from the time the probate is granted. If you want to contest a will on grounds of fraud then there is no time limit.

Is there a time limit to contest a will?

Yes, there is generally a time limit to contest a will, and it is advisable to seek legal advice promptly if you wish to do so. The specific contesting will time limits can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but it is typically within a few months to a few years after the grant of probate or letters of administration have been issued.

This time limit is in place to ensure the efficient handling of contentious probate matters and provide finality to the distribution of assets. To contest a will, you will need to present valid grounds such as lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, or improper execution.

Evidence, such as medical records, witness testimonies, or other relevant documentation, will be necessary to support your claim. It is essential to consult with an experienced lawyer who specialises in contentious wills to understand the specific timeframes and requirements for contesting a will in your jurisdiction and to navigate the probate timeline effectively.

What are the Avenues Used to Resolve a Contentious Probate Proceeding?

Whenever a person has a valid right to file a claim, then they are presented with several routes to take to arrive at a resolution.

  • Court – The contested probate is taken to court and the matter becomes a civil case. You will need to seek advice from contentious probate lawyers for this route.
  • Mediation – this is the most convenient way to resolve probate proceedings. It involves the appointment of a mediator to run the proceedings. The parties in the proceedings can choose to hire contentious wills solicitors, preferably one who is a member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists.

Contested probate,

What is a Grant of Probate?

Before the will of the deceased is executed a grant of probate letter is issued by the probate registry. A grant of probate letter is a document issued to the next of kin or to the executor named in the will to confirm their authority to execute the will.  If the estate left behind is small then a grant letter is not needed. If the estate is big then the need for a grant letter is highly dependent on the limits set by the respective societies like banks, like Monzo, or building societies.

Contentious Probate Costs

The contentious probate court fees cannot be approximated. A lot of factors go into the computation of the total cost. For example, the costs of contentious probate proceedings depends on the amount of time it will take to complete the proceeding.

Also, the costs of contentious probate vary depending on the size of the estate involved. The costs of contentious probate could get even higher if there are specialists involved.

Who is a Contentious Probate Solicitor?

This is a legal practitioner hired by a client to contest a will and follow through on any legal procedures necessary to do with disputed probate. Good contentious solicitors are members of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists. Such solicitors are specialists in wills and contentious wills.

If a person files for Contentious probate then they should decide whether they will need a contentious probate solicitor. In England, a person can choose either to hire a probate solicitor or represent himself in the proceedings.

How to find the best contentious probate solicitors?

Finding good contested wills and probate lawyers can be vital when handling a contentious probate.

When searching for the best contentious probate solicitors, there are several key factors to consider.

First, look for solicitors with expertise in handling contentious probate cases specifically, as this area of law requires specialized knowledge and experience.

Research their track record and success rate in handling similar cases, and consider reading client testimonials or reviews.

It is also important to find solicitors who understand the type of evidence needed to contest a will successfully, such as medical records, witness statements, or financial documents.

Additionally, you may want to inquire about their fee structure, as some solicitors offer “no win, no fee” arrangements for contentious probate cases, which can provide financial protection and peace of mind.

Consultation with multiple solicitors can help you assess their expertise and approach, and determine which one is the best fit for your specific needs.

How Long Does Probate Take?

The speed to which probate disputes are resolved in the United Kingdom is very subjective. It all depends on the size, the complexity of the estates, the nature of assets and whether contentious probate arises.

For simple estates, the probate disputes will be resolved in less than 3 months. For large complex estates, it can take anywhere between 6 months to 1 year to get a resolution.

Contentious probate proceedings

Who is Responsible for the Costs in Contentious Probate Proceedings?

At the end of the Contested probate proceedings, the cost of the litigation must be met. There are two ways by which the costs can be met

• If the persons who made the will is the one found to have caused the probate proceedings the cost can be met by the estate

• If the court arrives at the conclusion that an investigation into the will was justified, then it will order that the costs of the litigation be met by the individuals who bore them.

What are the chances of contesting a will and winning?

The chances of contesting a will and winning can vary depending on several factors specific to each case. It is advisable to consult with experienced solicitors specialising in contentious probate who can assess the strength of your case and provide guidance on the success rate of contesting a will.

They can evaluate the evidence, applicable laws, and potential arguments to determine the likelihood of success.

While it is not possible to guarantee an outcome, working with solicitors who offer “no win, no fee” arrangements for contentious probate cases can provide financial protection and alleviate some of the risks involved.

In some situations, probate dispute resolution methods like mediation or negotiation may also increase the chances of reaching a satisfactory outcome without going to court.

Seeking professional legal advice will help you understand the odds of winning contesting a will and enable you to make informed decisions based on your specific circumstances.

What else do I need to know?

Can an executor contest a will?

Yes, an executor can contest a will under certain circumstances. However, it is important to note that the role of an executor is typically to fulfil the wishes outlined in the will and administer the estate accordingly.

If the executor has concerns about the will’s validity, such as suspicions of fraud or undue influence, they can contest the will. In such cases, the executor may need to step down from their role to avoid any conflicts of interest.

It is recommended for executors facing such situations to consult with a legal professional to understand their rights and obligations and proceed accordingly.

Can a will be contested after probate?

Yes, a will can be contested after probate, although it becomes more challenging. Once probate is granted, the will is considered legally valid, and the distribution of assets typically begins. However, in certain circumstances, it is still possible to contest a will even after probate.

The process usually involves filing a legal claim and providing substantial evidence to support the challenge, such as proving the testator’s lack of mental capacity or undue influence.

It is important to note that there are strict time limits for contesting a will, so seeking legal advice promptly is advisable if there are valid grounds to contest the will.

What are not good grounds for contesting a will?

Not all reasons can serve as strong grounds for contesting a will.

Generally, dissatisfaction with the distribution of assets or personal disagreement with the contents of a will are not considered strong legal grounds for contesting it.

A mere dislike of the provisions, feeling unfairly treated, or being disappointed with the inheritance are typically not recognized as valid reasons to contest a will.

To contest a will successfully, it is important to have valid legal grounds, such as lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, or improper execution, supported by credible evidence.

Seeking professional legal advice can help determine the viability of contesting a will based on the specific circumstances and available evidence.

What happens after unsuccessful inheritance act claims?

The legal process often ends after a failed inheritance act claim, and the original provisions of the will or intestacy statutes remain in place.

The rejected claimant will not be granted new rights or a portion of the inheritance. It is significant to highlight that depending on the jurisdiction and the form of the claim, the specific ramifications may change.

The failed claimant may be held liable for any prospective costs or legal fees in certain circumstances. To fully grasp the implications and, if necessary, examine any other legal options, it is advisable to get legal advice.


It is recommended that you get a Probate solicitor or contentious probate lawyer who is well acquainted with contentious probate rules.

Follow up on proceedings once probate is granted, from the time the executor applies for probate with the Probate registry to the time when either a settlement agreement or the final court verdict is given.

Are you looking for a professional to help support you with probate?

Kings Court Trust are here to help you.

No upfront costs
Telephone support available
Different levels of help available

The UK Care Guide has partnered with Kings Court Trust, one of the UK’s leading probate specialists, to bring you a cost-effective and premium level probate service.  Kings Court Trust have won awards for their customer service and this is a key reason as to why we have partnered with them.

We realise that for many it is essential that probate is completed quickly.  That is why their dedicated service is designed to speed things up as much as possible for you and consequently reduce the time it takes for probate to be completed.

You can speak to Kings Court to discuss the support that you need.

Call : 0333 567 1608

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Are you looking for a professional to help you with probate?  Kings Court Trust can help you.

Call : 0333 567 1608

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