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Contentious Probate

Interpretation Of The Terms of Wills

If a loved one has passed away and their Will contains errors or is unclear, we understand how this can cause tension and disputes between family members.

Wills are not always easy to understand, so it’s important to get specialist advice if you’re dealing with one that isn’t clear, or if you think a mistake has been made.

You should seek professional legal advice if you believe that:

  • The Will writer made a mistake – If the person who drafted the Will didn’t understand the deceased’s wishes, the Will won’t reflect how they wanted their estate to be distributed. In this case, you may be able to make a claim against the Will writer. For more information, see our Professional Negligence page.
  • There has been a clerical error – This includes spelling mistakes and errors in recording numbers. It also includes factual errors made in the Will.

Mistakes such as these can cause disputes between family members who believe that they have not been fairly provided for. There may also be disputes with executors over the true intention of the Will.

If the Will contains a mistake, speak to us about how to get it corrected. With evidence of the mistake and the deceased's intended meaning, we can apply to the court for changes. This process is called rectification.

You may also be involved in a dispute due to unclear wording in the Will. If you can't come to an agreement with other beneficiaries and the executor on the meaning, we can help you apply to the court to interpret the Will. This process is called construction.

We know that this will be a stressful time for you. Our Will, Trust & Estate Disputes team is the largest in the country, so we have the experience and expertise to help you reach a positive resolution. We are particularly good at dealing with complex cases and those involving significant assets.

If you’d like advice about an unclear or inaccurate Will, we’re here to help. Call us today on 0345 604 4895, or fill out our online contact form and we’ll call you back.

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24/7 advice on our Will Disputes Helpline
One of the largest Wills disputes teams in the UK
Specialist mediators available to resolve disputes out of court

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Interpretation Of Wills - More Information
    • Who Can Contest A Will?
    • You may be able to contest a Will if you feel that you have been unfairly left out or that the Will doesn’t provide for you enough. This includes:

      • If you are named in the Will but received less than you expected
      • If you were financially dependent on the deceased and have not received enough in the Will
      • If you have been left out of the Will entirely
      • If the deceased promised to give you something before they died, but didn’t
      • If you are worried that the Will doesn’t accurately reflect the deceased’s wishes.

      Whatever your concerns about your loved one’s Will, our specialist team can advise how best to put things right. Call us today on 0345 604 4895 to find out more.

    • How Long Will It Take?
    • Most claims take less than a year and don’t have to go to court. However, every case is different and time spans depend on the type of dispute and your individual situation.

      Some disputes can be resolved quickly and amicably in a matter of months, but others might take years to conclude and involve going to court several times.

      We’ll advise you at the start how long we think it will take. Whatever the situation, we always aim to resolve your dispute as quickly and efficiently as possible. We understand that this is a difficult time, and we’re here to help you through.

    • How Much Does It Cost? Who Pays?
    • The cost of a Will, trust or estate dispute varies from case to case, depending on time, complexity, and whether or not you have to go to court.

      A dispute can be settled at any time if the parties can come to an agreement, and they can then decide how to split the costs between them. However, if an agreement can’t be reached and the case has to go to court, the court will decide how the costs will be paid.

    • How Can I Cover The Cost Of My Claim?
    • There are various ways you can cover the cost of your claim, depending on your case. These include:

      • Legal Expenses Insurance
      • Conditional Fee Agreement (‘No Win No Fee’)
      • Payment on conclusion
      • Private monthly billing.

      We understand that funds and assets may be tied up in the disputed estate, and we’ll be as flexible as possible to ensure that’s not another worry on your mind. We’ll discuss the different payment options with you at the start.

      Your first consultation with us is completely free, and there’s no obligation to continue.

    • Will I Have To Go To Court?
    • Most disputes can be resolved by negotiation and discussion, without having to go to court. However, sometimes this isn’t possible and court is the only way.

      We understand that most people would prefer to keep their dispute out of court, and we will always do everything we can to try and reach an agreement by mediation. However, if your dispute does have to go to court, we will support you at every stage. We have the experience to handle court disputes efficiently and effectively, to achieve the best outcome for you.

    • Meet The Team
    • Our Wills, Trusts and Estate Disputes team is the largest in the UK and we have offices across the country. We are experienced in managing high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth claims as well as less complex ones.

      We’ve resolved some of the country’s most high profile disputes and are particularly experienced with the unique challenges of multi-jurisdictional wealth management structures, rural property and inheritance tax.

      We are recommended by the leading legal guides and pride ourselves on the strong relationship we build with our clients in what is often a very trying time.

      Meet the team

My legal team has held my hand throughout, they have been incredibly patient and understanding"

Joy Williams, client

Frequently Asked Questions

What's The Claims Process?

This depends if you, the other beneficiaries and the executor agree that there’s an error in the Will, or an issue with its meaning.

If you agree that there’s an error or mistake in the Will, we can help you make a joint application to the court or probate registry. If you can’t agree, we’ll help you make a contested application in the High Court.

If you disagree on the meaning of the Will, we’ll help you apply for the court to interpret it. In some cases you can avoid this, and use the interpretation of a barrister instead.

Our team of experts are here to help you. We’ll work to deal with any concerns you have, and fight for your interests to achieve the best possible outcome.

If you’d like more information, call us today on 0345 604 4895, or fill out our online contact form.

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Are There Any Time Limits?

You should apply for a Will to be corrected within six months of the grant of representation being issued. If you want to make a claim after that, you’ll need to get permission from the court.

It’s sometimes possible to correct the error without applying to the court, by using a deed of variation. Ideally, you should do this within two years of the death of the person who made the Will.

If you’d like more information, call us today on 0345 604 4895, or fill out our online contact form.

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Why Choose Irwin Mitchell?

Our national team of lawyers specialise in Wills, Trusts and Estate Disputes. We have a wealth of experience in the wide range of disputes that can arise.

We have expert lawyers based in offices nationwide. The team also has significant experience in advising clients where there is an international element to the dispute, such as:

  • The deceased owning assets outside of the UK
  • Advising clients who live overseas
  • Dealing with international trust disputes.

As a top five UK Private Wealth law firm, we work closely with our Tax, Trust and Estates team and we can draw on their significant expertise in tax, wealth planning, the administration of estates and estate planning.

Call today on 0345 604 4895 – or fill out our online contact form and we’ll call you back.

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