Contentious probate, estate disputes and actions to remove executors
Estate disputes and contentious probate issues can be stressful and may seem complicated. Whether you’re an executor or a beneficiary, our experienced team of contentious probate solicitors can help guide you every step of the way.
Our contentious probate experience includes:
- actions to remove executors;
- applications to court for directions regarding the administration of an estate;
- applications for delivery up of assets held by executors/beneficiaries;
- citations to accept or refuse probate;
- subpoenas to produce wills and testamentary documents;
- applications to issue and warn off caveats;
- applications for an inventory and account; and
- bringing or defending claims by estates.
We know that legal costs can be a concern which is why we offer free, no-obligation consultations and flexible pricing options, tailored to your needs.
Actions to remove executors
Contentious probate issues can arise between co-executors or administrators (collectively known as “personal representatives”) or between beneficiaries and executors at any stage of an estate administration or probate. This can involve disputes over the value of assets, the suitability of executors, probate fees and any other concerns over an executor’s actions. Our contentious probate lawyers have significant experience in dealing with all manner of executor disputes including replacing or removing executors.
Disputes between beneficiaries
In the aftermath of a loved one’s death it’s not uncommon for contentious probate issues to arise between beneficiaries. Our contentious probate solicitors have significant experience and a proven track record of delivering timely and cost-effective results in a pragmatic and sensitive manner.
Claims by or against the estate
As an executor, you stand in the shoes of a deceased person. This means that any claims relating to the deceased can be brought by or against you. That carries with it certain risks and duties; for instance, it you might need to consider bringing a claim if it’s in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries to do so. Similarly, you might have to defend any claims brought against the deceased.
Our contentious probate team has significant experience in dealing with all manner of claims and threats against estates and are there with you every step of the way.
What is contentious probate?
Contentious probate is any dispute relating to the administration of a deceased person’s estate (probate). Whether you are involved in a dispute over the value of estate assets, the interpretation of a will or will dispute, an executor dealing with feuding beneficiaries or need to know how to remove an executor, we can help.
We aim to resolve contentious probate disputes quickly and cost-effectively and have significant experience in dealing with all manner of contentious probate issues.
Are there any time limits for a contentious probate claim?
Time limits differ depending on the specific type of claim. Generally, probate claims must usually be brought within 12 years from the date a person becomes entitled to a share of the estate. However, in some cases these time limits can be considerably shorter so the key is to act quickly.
If you’re facing a potential estate dispute then contact our team of contentious probate solicitors today.
How can I remove an executor?
How to remove an executor generally depends on whether the application is being made before or after the grant of probate or letters of administration have been granted.
Assuming you can’t remove an executor by agreement (in our experience many executors will agree to be removed without the need to go to court), generally speaking before a grant of probate or letters of administration have been granted the most common way to remove an executor is by an application to the probate registry under section116 Senior Courts Act 1981.
After the grant of probate or letters of administration have been obtained, an application to the High Court is usually necessary to remove an executor, under section 50 Administration of Justice Act 1985.
Our team of contentious probate solicitors have significant experience in removing executors.
For more information , please read our blog post 'How to remove an executor'
What are the grounds for removing an executor?
There are numerous grounds to remove an executor. The following can give automatic grounds to remove an executor:
- where they have remained outside of the UK for more than 12 months; or
- where, whether through some disability or otherwise, they are unable to act.
Otherwise, the grounds to remove an executor can include the following:
- refusal to act;
- where they are unfit to act, for example favouring one beneficiary over another, having previously been convicted of fraud, having acted in breach of their duties or contrary to the terms of the will, having profited from their role (see our blog on self-dealing for more information) or otherwise
- acted in a way which is contrary to the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries;
- unanimous agreement between all relevant parties;
- where the executor(s) and beneficiaries simply do not get on; or
- any other reason which calls into question the executor’s suitability.
Our team of contentious probate solicitors have significant experience in removing executors. Read our blog 'How to remove an executor' to find out more.
What information am I entitled to receive about an estate?
Beneficiaries are generally entitled to request and be provided with estate accounts or accounts showing their entitlement and interest. In many cases a beneficiary should also be provided with a copy of the will.
If you have an executor refusing to provide estate accounts then you may be able to make an application to court for an “inventory and account” requiring the executor to provide an itemised list of all assets in the estate, as well as an account of their dealings with those assets and their actions.
I am an executor faced with a potential claim. Can you help?
Yes. With over 50 years’ experience in advising professional and lay executors we are well placed to help you navigate the minefield of a contentious probate claim.
More often than not, we can resolve potential claims without the need to go to court. However, if court proceedings are necessary then our primary focus is always to protect you, our client, from any adverse costs order and to provide you with frank, no-nonsense advice.