What is a probate dispute?

Contentious probate refers to a dispute about how a person’s estate is managed, and who it is passed onto, after they’ve died. Resolving a probate dispute can be a costly and emotionally exhausting process, but the good news is that there are some simple steps you can take now to help prevent disputes about the handling of your estate.

Victoria Matthews, partner at Cartridges Law says: “When clients first come to see us, they are often grieving for the loss of their loved one, whilst also trying to look after that person’s estate, which might not have been left as they’d have expected. There are some easy steps to take to ensure that the probate process doesn’t become contentious.”

Write a will

Victoria says the first, and most obvious step to take is to make a will. The danger of not having a will means that your loved ones may have no control over what happens to your estate after you’ve died. This process is called dying intestate and means that your estate will be guided by the same intestate rules as anybody else. No personal factors will be taken into consideration.

Make sure your will is valid and properly drafted

The second step to take to avoid probate disputes is to ensure that the will has been well written and drafted by a professional. It might include a clear statement of your wishes, and where anybody has been excluded, it should explain why you have made that decision.

Talk to your loved ones

The third step is to talk to your loved ones about your will, and about why you’ve made certain decisions that might affect them. Victoria acknowledges that this can be a tricky conversation to have, but it makes things a lot easier in the long run.

She added: “Talking about death is not an easy subject, especially with those you love. Throw money into the mix and it becomes even harder! But being able to have that open and honest conversation makes things so much easier for your loved ones after you’ve died and can save a lot of time, money, and stress.”

Avoiding probate disputes: other things to consider

Victoria adds that in addition to these three steps, there are some groups of people who may need to pay particular consideration to their wills and wishes.

Those going through a separation or divorce should be aware that until their will is updated to say otherwise, their estate will be passed as stated in the current will. Likewise, those who have stepchildren and blended families need to be clear about what they’d like to happen to their assets after they’ve died as complicated arrangements can more easily lead to probate disputes if they are not properly handled.

If you’d like help to make a will, or to talk about somebody else’s estate that you’re involved with, get in touch with our team of specialist solicitors on 01392 256854.