Contentious probate

Dealing with the estate of a loved one when they pass away can be challenging, especially where there are disagreements over how the estate should be divided.

As well as other practical issues, such as who should be in charge of administering the estate. In these situations, having access to expert legal advice can make all the difference.

Our Dispute Resolution team are highly experienced in contentious probate (also known as ‘contested probate’, ‘will disputes’ or ‘probate disputes’). We can unpick the issues and conflicts involved and help you to find a way forward as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

Wherever possible, we will strive to find a solution without the need for court action. Our lawyers are highly skilled negotiators and can usually help you reach an agreement that works for everyone involved. However, we also have extensive experience in dealing with probate disputes through the courts, so can ensure your best interests will be protected, no matter what route is required.

Our probate dispute solicitors offer an initial fixed-fee one-hour consultation so we can get a clear picture of your situation and outline your legal options and the likely costs involved. You can then make an informed decision about how you want to proceed with complete confidence.

Speak to one of our specialist contentious probate solicitors in Essex today by calling 01245 228101 or use the contact form for a swift response.


Contentious probate FAQs

What is contentious probate?

Contentious probate involves disputes arising from the administration of a deceased person’s estate. This can include challenges to the validity of a will, disputes between beneficiaries, claims against the estate, and issues with executors or administrators.

What are common reasons for contesting a will?

Common reasons include:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity: The deceased did not have the mental capacity to make a valid will.
  • Undue influence: The will was made under pressure or coercion.
  • Improper execution: The will was not executed according to legal requirements.
  • Fraud or forgery: The will is fraudulent or has been forged.
  • Lack of knowledge and approval: The deceased did not understand or approve the contents of the will.
Who can contest a will in the UK?

Generally, those who can contest a will include:

  • Beneficiaries named in the will.
  • Beneficiaries under a previous will.
  • Individuals who would inherit under the rules of intestacy if no valid will existed.
  • People financially dependent on the deceased who feel inadequately provided for.
How long do I have to contest a will?

The time limits for contesting a will vary:

  • Validity challenges: Typically within 12 years from the date of death.
  • Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 claims: Within 6 months from the grant of probate.
  • Fraud claims: There is no time limit for claims based on fraud.
What is the process for contesting a will?

The process generally involves:

  • Pre-action steps: Attempting to resolve the dispute through negotiation or mediation.
  • Filing a claim: Issuing a claim form in the appropriate court.
  • Disclosure: Exchanging relevant documents.
  • Trial: Presenting the case before a judge, who will make a decision.
What happens if a will is declared invalid?

If a will is declared invalid, the estate is usually distributed according to a previous valid will. If no previous valid will exists, the estate is distributed according to the rules of intestacy, which outline a strict hierarchy of relatives who are entitled to inherit.

Can an executor be removed or replaced?

Yes, an executor can be removed or replaced if they are not acting in the best interests of the estate. This can be done through a court application demonstrating the executor’s misconduct, incapacity, or unsuitability to manage the estate.

What are the costs associated with contentious probate?

Costs can include solicitor fees, court fees, expert witness fees, and other litigation expenses. These costs can be significant, and in some cases, the court may order that costs be paid from the estate.

What is a Caveat, and when should it be used?

A Caveat is a legal document lodged at the Probate Registry to prevent a grant of probate or administration from being issued. It is used when there are concerns about the validity of the will or the administration of the estate. A Caveat lasts for six months and can be renewed.

How can contentious probate disputes be resolved without going to court?

Disputes can often be resolved through alternative dispute resolution methods such as:

  • Negotiation: Direct discussions between parties to reach an agreement.
  • Mediation: A neutral mediator facilitates discussions to help parties reach a settlement.
  • Arbitration: An arbitrator makes a binding decision on the dispute.

These methods can save time, reduce costs, and provide a more amicable resolution compared to court proceedings.

Why choose Gepp Solicitors contentious probate solicitors in Chelmsford?

At Gepp Solicitors, we offer a straightforward, practical approach to contentious probate disputes, making it as fast and simple as possible to resolve any points of conflict.

We have a large team of legal experts who can all contribute to your case as required, but you will also have a dedicated contact so you always know who to talk to if you have any questions or concerns. We will also make sure to keep you updated at all times, so you are never left wondering what is going on or what is likely to happen next.

Alongside our expert dispute resolution solicitors and probate lawyers, we have a number of in-house experts in areas such as tax and accounting, meaning that where additional expertise is required, we can quickly get the answers you need.

We are accredited by the Law Society for Family Mediation, reflecting our expertise in non-confrontational dispute resolution, and are also Lexcel accredited for the quality of our client services. This means you can be assured that we have the skills, knowledge and client-focused approach you need for a positive outcome.

Get in touch with our contentious probate solicitors in Chelmsford, Essex

Need advice and support about any issues related to contentious probate in Chelmsford or throughout Essex?

Please contact Justin Emerson at or use the contact form to request a call back.

Call us
Main Number: 01245 228101

Email us
Disputes email:

Our lawyers are highly skilled negotiators and can usually help you reach an agreement that works for everyone involved.

Our lawyers are highly skilled negotiators and can usually help you reach an agreement that works for everyone involved.


Our Contentious Probate experts

Justin Emerson
Nadia Fabri
Associate Solicitor
Natasha Kelt
Associate Solicitor

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If you want to find out more about the services we can offer you, please feel free to get in touch.