The majority of a solicitor’s work related to wills and probate is non-contentious. Few probate solicitors ever have the need to step foot into a court room, so their litigation experience is minimal. For the most part, solicitors either do court room work or they don’t. Locating a contested probate solicitor, particularly one who takes both types of cases is no small task especially away from the big urban centres. Your local high street solicitor is probably not the right person for this job.
If your wills and probate solicitor doesn’t have experience with contentious cases, your case will be handed over to the firm’s litigation department. The problem is that litigation solicitors typically have no in-depth knowledge of wills and probate law. Plus, the transition can delay your case and probably means more expenses for you. When you instruct a specialist contested probate solicitor, you will never be handed off to another department. A specialist contested probate solicitor will handle this type of litigation in in a court of law from start to finish.
The good news is that you do not need to search. ACTAPS – The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists will recommend you to solicitors that can handle these matters. They are qualified, experienced professional contested probate solicitors. Those facing the possibility of contentious probate or a contested will should speak with a contested probate solicitor as soon as possible. Acting quickly can help prevent the situation from escalating and becoming more complicated and inevitably more expensive to deal with.
No matter the basis of the legal action being brought to court, the first step is always the same: determining whether the will is valid. If the will is invalid, then all the other probate objections are irrelevant. Those wishing to contest a will have several ways to do it. The law sets out strict requirements for drafting and executing a legally binding will. Failing to meet even one of those requirements invalidates the entire document.
First, the testator must be at least 18 years of age. The testator must also be of sound mind and understand the meaning of the document. The testator must not have been subjected to any undue influence whilst drafting and/or executing the will. Witnessing requirements also apply. The testator must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the will themselves. If either of the witnesses is also a beneficiary of the will, they lose their inheritance.
If the will is proved valid, then it is time to deal with the core of the legal action. Perhaps it is someone unhappy about being left out of the will or a dependent who was not provided with adequate support. These situations call for the assistance of a wills and probate specialist who can represent your best interests and fight for the right outcome.