Contentious Probate Q&A

GEPP

1 July 2024

By Justin Emerson

What happens if the Executors of a Will disagree?

It is common for a Will to name more than one Executor. Where this happens, the named people will either need to decide amongst themselves who will act as the Executor, or they can choose to act together as joint Executors.
If the named Executors choose to administer the estate together, they will need to agree on how to go about this. Where there is disagreement, it is a good idea to take legal advice at the earliest opportunity to avoid the dispute escalating, which has the potential to make the probate process longer and more expensive, as well as potentially damaging important family relationships.
Using non-confrontational dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, it is often possible get to the heart of these disputes and find amicable ways to resolve them quickly and with minimal expense.

How can you get a copy of a Will?

Until probate is granted, only the Executor or Executors of a Will have the right to see it. However, once probate is granted the Will should be easily available to anyone who wishes to see a copy.

You can search online for a Will using the government’s Wills database as long as you have the deceased’s name and year of birth. You can then order a copy for a small fee.

If you want to see a copy of the Will before probate has been granted, the Executors may be willing to allow this, so it is usually a good idea to ask before considering further action.

Can you stop probate?

You can stop a grant of representation being granted and therefore prevent probate from moving forward by applying for a ‘caveat’ to be entered against the estate. This can be useful where there is a dispute over matters such as who should administer the estate, whether a Will exists or whether the most up-to-date version of the deceased’s Will is being used.
To submit a caveat you must be over 18 and will need to fill out a signed application form (or have your lawyer do this for you). There is a small fee for doing this and the caveat will last for 6 months.
Although a caveat can be invaluable, it is important to ensure that it is being used in the right context and it may be appropriate to seek legal advice before proceeding with one.

Is there a time limit for contesting probate?

Subject to the type of claim, you will normally need to bring a contentious probate claim within 12 years of the deceased’s death. However some claims may need to be brought within 6 months of the date of the grant of representation and therefore it is advisable to seek advice as soon as possible to ensure that a claim is brought in time and, as once the assets have been distributed, it is much harder to reclaim them.

What happens if the deceased did not leave a Will?

If the deceased did not leave a Will, their estate will normally be divided according to the standard rules of intestacy. This means their estate will go to their spouse or civil partner (if they have one) and any children, grandchildren or other close relatives, depending on the circumstances and value of the estate.
The person who wishes to administer the estate will need to apply for a grant of representation to do so and will normally need to be the deceased’s legal next of kin.

 

For more information regarding our Contentious probate services, contact us today by calling 01245 228101 or by filling out an enquiry form.