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Wills, Trusts & Estate Disputes

Pre-Death Agreement Solicitors

People often make informal agreements with friends and family about what will happen to their estate when they die. Our solicitors may be able to help you secure assets that you’ve been promised even if they aren’t in someone’s will.

A valid Will is supposed to accurately reflect how the deceased wanted their property to be handled when they die. If they made agreements that aren’t represented in their Will, this can raise questions about the validity of that Will and cause disputes between prospective beneficiaries.

There are three main ways you may be able to claim against someone’s estate to secure the assets that you were promised:

  • Proprietary Estoppel – if you have already suffered a financial loss because you expected to receive certain assets
  • Inheritance Act – if you were financially dependent on the deceased and they failed to sufficiently provide for you in their Will
  • Professional Negligence – if the pre-death agreement was missing from the deceased’s Will due to mistakes made by their Will writer or lawyer.

Our specialist team of Will dispute solicitors will advise what type of claim is best for you. We’ll support and represent you throughout – whether we agree a solution through mediation or take the claim to court.

Large and complex estates left by high net worth individuals are often disputed. We have resolved some of the country’s most high profile disputes of recent years and have particular expertise with trusts, rural property and overseas assets.

Contact us online or call 0345 604 4895 to find out more about how we can help.

Offices in 14 locations across the country
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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Pre-Death Agreement Solicitors - More Information
    • Will I Have To Go To Court?
    • Most disputes are resolved through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation without going to court.

      Mediation is usually a quick process and often only takes a single day. A neutral third party mediator will help you, the executor and any other beneficiaries to decide on a settlement that is acceptable for everyone. They won’t comment on the facts of the case or any legal points.

      We try our best to resolve every dispute this way but your claim may have to go to court if you can’t reach an agreement.

      Our team will represent and advise you every step of the way, keeping you up to date with every development. With us representing you, you often won’t have to go to court yourself.

    • How Long Do I Have To Make A Claim?
    • The amount of time you have to claim depends on what kind of claim you are making.

      If you were financially dependent on the deceased and they failed to sufficiently provide for you in their will, you can claim under the Inheritance Act 1975.

      You'll have six months from the date that the Probate Service issues a grant of representation. You need to apply for permission from the court to claim any later than this. It’s important to get in touch as soon as possible so we can help make sure that you are allowed to pursue your claim. See our Inheritance Act page for more information.

      If you've already suffered a financial loss because you expected to receive certain assets, you can claim in Proprietary Estoppel.

      You can claim at any time but a delay could be used as reason to dismiss your claim. The longer you wait also increases the risk of the property you had been promised being sold or given away to someone else. This means it’s important to begin your claim as quickly as possible. See our Proprietary Estoppel page to find out more.

      If the pre-death agreement was missing from the deceased’s will due to mistakes made by their will-writer or lawyer, you can claim for professional negligence.

      You have six years from the date that you suffered the loss, which is normally the date of death of the deceased. If you weren’t aware of the loss at the time, you have three years from the date that you found out. See our Professional Negligence page for more details.

    • 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.

    • 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 Is A Pre-Death Agreement?

A pre-death agreement is usually when the deceased promised to leave you something when they die. There are also cases in which the deceased promised to transfer or gift an asset before they died.

People usually make pre-death agreements verbally, without any formal written documentation. This can lead to disputes if the promise is broken, revoked, or not included in the deceased’s Will. It can also be hard to prove that there was an agreement.

If you’ve been promised something that’s not reflected in someone’s Will, we may be able to help. Contact us today to find out more.

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What Is Proprietary Estoppel?

You may still be entitled to a promised property even if there is no written evidence of an agreement. This is due to a legal principle called ‘proprietary estoppel’ which comes into effect if:

  1. Someone promised that you would acquire a property; and
  2. You relied on that promise to your loss – for example, if you gave up a career because you expected to inherit the family farm; and
  3. It would be immoral to break the promise.

Our wills solicitors can help you make a claim to enforce a pre-death agreement and make sure you receive what you had been promised. See our Proprietary Estoppel page for more information.

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Who Can Contest A Will Based On A Pre-Death Agreement?

Anyone who has suffered a loss due to a broken promise might be able to claim, either through proprietary estoppel or for professional negligence, depending on the circumstances. Your exact relationship with the deceased doesn’t matter – you could be a friend, family member, business partner, or employee.

If you were related to or dependent on the deceased and they failed to adequately provide for you in their Will, you may also be able to claim under the Inheritance Act.

Whatever your situation or relationship with the deceased, our experienced team will determine whether you have a claim and the best way to resolve your dispute. Call our friendly team on 0345 604 4895 today to find out more.

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