Legal jargon has never been easy to understand in layman’s terms. Often the words and phrases have simpler alternatives. To help with understanding what your solicitor means, or how we’re able to help you through our services – we want to demystify the terms that are every day for us!

So, contentious probate is essentially a dispute relating to the administration of a deceased person’s estate. It’s more simply known as a ‘Will dispute’ where the validity of the last and true valid Will is questioned.


What happens when a Will is disputed?


The solicitor should determine what the true wishes of the deceased persons were. This means helping the assets to go to the right places as intended by the persons whose Will it is.

It’s a difficult task at times and not always clear-cut. With the deceased person not around to communicate their wishes, the Will is usually deemed invalid, and is then the previous valid Will stands in its place. If there was no previous Will then rules of intestacy will apply. The court will then decide how much of the estate you are entitled to – as long as you make a claim under the inheritance act.


When can I contest a Will?


The most common contentious probate claims are in relation to the Will not being valid. Examples of the causation of an invalid Will include:

  • Concerns that the Deceased was unduly influenced in making the Will
  • Concerns that the Deceased did not have the mental capacity to make a Will
  • Concerns that the Will or signature was forged
  • Concerns that the Deceased’s assets will not be disposed of in accordance with the Will
  • Concerns that the Deceased did make a Will which has not been presented

Another common cause for contesting a will is for further provision – where a person feels they have not been provided for by the will.


Evolving issues with estates


Estates can be confusing, especially when there are multiple properties, investments, and even international assets. We’re also starting to see now that with divorce becoming more prevalent

Other types of disputes/ circumstances which fall under the bracket of contentious probate are:

  • Claim to clarify the will’s meaning, where further explanation is needed to reduce any uncertainty
  • Claims that the administration or distribution of the estate has not been handled correctly
  • Claims regarding the ownership of a property
  • Disputes or disagreements between executors of a will
  • Claims where there is a mistake in a will
  • Claims to honour a deceased person’s promise, that is not stated in the will
  • Claims about lifetimes gifts which were promised
  • Claims over the validity of the will
  • Claims under inheritance, where there should be provision for family and dependents
  • Disputes over roles, who is involved in the administration, what their costs and responsibilities are


Contact us

If you require extra help when dealing with a Will or would like more advice on Contentious probate, get in touch with our helpful Wills & Probate team. Either call us on 01782 662424 or email us at