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Will dispute solicitors

Whether you’re disputing a will or defending a will claim, our expert team of solicitors can help. With clear, straightforward and no-nonsense advice, we aim to make the process as easy as possible.

As recognised leaders in the field, and one of the largest teams in the UK, our specialist will dispute lawyers have over 50 years’ combined experience and a strong track record of achieving results for our clients.

We offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation as well as flexible pricing options, tailored to your needs. Contact us for further information.

What are the grounds for disputing a will

The main grounds to contest a will are:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity
  • Lack of due execution
  • Lack of knowledge and approval of the will
  • Undue influence or duress
  • Fraud or forgery
  • Rectification and construction

Watch our short video which explains the main grounds for contesting a will.

How much am I entitled to in a will dispute claim?

If you are successful in contesting a will then the terms of any earlier, valid will would usually take effect. If there is no earlier will then the estate is distributed in accordance with rules set out by law, known as the intestacy rules.

As such, the starting point is to determine what you stand to inherit if you are successful in disputing a will.

In many cases it’s also possible to negotiate a settlement which avoids the costs and risks of proceeding to trial.

How quickly will my will dispute be dealt with?

Each case is unique and so how quickly your case might be resolved depends on the particular circumstances. However, with one of the largest contested wills teams in the UK with over 50 years’ experience in contesting wills, and with recognised leaders in the field of contesting wills, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands and that we’ll work with you to resolve your claim as quickly as possible.

Why use the will dispute lawyers at Hugh James?

We’re a top 100, full-service law firm with offices in England and Wales.  Our team of will dispute solicitors has over 50 years’ experience in disputing wills and defending will disputes and is top ranked by both Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, the leading legal directories, with a number our solicitors being ranked as leading individuals.

Our solicitors have also gained specific industry accreditations through STEP (formerly the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), ACTAPS (the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists) and Solicitors for the Elderly.

We offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation as well as flexible pricing options, tailored to your needs. Contact us for further information.

Key Contact

Roman Kubiak is a partner and head of the market leading Contested Wills, Trusts and Estates team.

He advises across the whole spectrum of private wealth disputes, with a particular focus on high value, complex and cross-border disputes including: trust disputes, breach of trust claims and applications to remove trustees; will disputes, particularly those with an international element; claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975; and claims for equitable relief under proprietary estoppel, constructive trusts and resulting trusts.

Client case study

Watch one of our clients speak about how she was able to contest her uncle’s will following concerns that he was subjected to undue influence and fraud when he was elderly and vulnerable. Click the video below to hear her story.

Our experience in will disputes

Matthew Evans acted for the successful claimant in the leading case involving contesting a will for undue influence of Re Edwards [2007] EWHC 1119 (Ch).  The claimant, John Edwards, contested the will of his late mother, Winifred Victoria Edwards, which left the whole of her estate to her other son, Terry.  John’s claim was that Terry had deliberately poisoned his mother’s mind by making untruthful accusations against John and his wife, Carol, with the effect that their mother’s free will was “overborne” such that she changed her will to favour Terry.

The High Court found in favour of John and held that the will should be set aside for undue influence, specifically on the basis of “fraudulent calumny”, a type of undue influence which involves one person “poisoning” the mind of another in the hope of them changing their will to exclude another person.

This case remains one of the leading cases on contesting a will for undue influence, specifically, fraudulent calumny.

Hugh James acted for a claimant who was contesting her late uncle’s last four wills on the basis that:

  1. three of the wills had not been validly signed and witnessed in accordance with section 9 Wills Act 1837; and
  2. the other will was made at a time when the deceased had been extremely vulnerable and therefore susceptible to the influence of others.

During his lifetime the deceased, an elderly gentleman, had invested in a number of questionable investments involving rare metals and wine portfolios and soon became the target of numerous scams.  He was befriended by one of the employees of one of the wine investment companies who went under a pseudonym and, over the course of a number of months, his investments steadily increased as did apparent gifts to the employee in his wills.

After detailed investigations and robust correspondence we were successful in having the gift to the employee set aside and we were also able to achieve an excellent result for our client at mediation against another beneficiary who had sought to secure a significant gift under that same will.

In addition to successfully contesting wills, we pride ourselves on robustly defending will claims. In a recent claim we acted for the daughter of the deceased who had left her entire estate to our client.

Our client’s half-sister sought to contest the will on the basis that the deceased lacked testamentary capacity and knowledge and approval and entered a caveat in an attempt to block the grant of probate.

It was clear from the outset that the claim had no merit but the half-sister sought to use the caveat as leverage in the hope of achieving a pay-out.

We therefore issued a claim to “prove” the last will and the half-sister immediately agreed to withdraw her challenge.

During his last years the deceased was bed-bound and totally reliant on the support of carers. His will (which was homemade) couldn’t be found after he died.

The legal dispute focused on the reasons why the will had been lost. If the will was deliberately destroyed by the deceased with the intention of revoking it, then it wouldn’t have effect, and the estate would have passed on the basis of the intestacy rules, the rules which apply where there is no valid will. On the other hand, if the will was genuinely ‘lost’, or destroyed by mistake, then it would still have taken effect.

Evidence was scarce, and it became clear that if the matter reached trial the court was going to have to decide which event was more likely, based on the individual circumstances.

We acted for a company who represented all of the intestacy beneficiaries. The opponents (the executors and beneficiaries under the lost will) argued that the will had most likely been accidentally destroyed by a third party.

We were able to negotiate a favourable settlement for the intestacy beneficiaries which avoided the costs and risk of trial.

Your questions answered

Yes. We offer a free 20 minute telephone consultation.

In many cases we’re able to offer a range of flexible pricing options including “no win, no fee” agreements, fixed fees and deferred payment arrangements depending on each case.

Some cases may also be suitable for “After the Event” insurance funding which provide cover for the cost of disbursements such as court and expert fees as well as protecting you from any potential adverse costs order.

Contact us now to find out more.

Most claims involving a disputed will are resolved without the need for court proceedings. Of those cases which do proceed to trial, the general rule is that the losing party pays the majority of the winning party’s costs.

Each case is different and our experienced solicitors have a strong track record of achieving excellent results for our clients and providing frank, no-nonsense advice.

In many cases we’re also able to offer tailored pricing options. We pride ourselves on the service we provide to our clients and back this up with service level guarantees; if you feel that the service you’ve received has fallen short then we’ll offer a discount on our fees, no strings attached.

Yes. Provided the deceased had some link with England or Wales i.e. because they had assets here, were domiciled here (whether at death or before) or elected England and Wales as their choice of law under their will then it may be possible and, indeed, preferable to contest a will here.

We are one of the few contested wills teams in the UK with expertise in both onshore and cross-border will disputes.

A natural and dynamic leader’, the ‘very impressive’ Roman Kubiak heads the firm’s contested wills, trusts and estates team and is noted for his ‘deep knowledge of estates and trusts law’.

The Legal 500

Roman Kubiak is described by a client as “tremendously capable, he knows what he is doing. He’s a national figure.” Another source adds: “Roman is exceptionally knowledgeable, he is very pragmatic and very solution-oriented.”

Chambers & Partners

The team is described as “very prepared, very organised, very easy to deal with,” by a source, who adds: “They turn things around quickly, and are also very on the ball.”

Chambers & Partners

[Hugh James’] private wealth group is appreciated for its ability ‘to relate with great sensitivity on a human level to very personal matters, while also giving very clear and measured advice’.

The Legal 500

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