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Disputes over Wills – Is there an easier solution than court proceedings?

When a person dies leaving assets then there is the potential for a dispute to arise even if they leave a Will. This is what is known as “contentious probate” and this can take various forms for example:-
  • claims relating to ownership of property
  • an error in the drafting of a Will which creates an unintended problem.
  • disputes between personal representatives tasked with administering the Will or distribution of the estate.
  • claims where the estate of the deceased does not leave reasonable financial
  • provision for an important individual,
  • questions concerning the capacity of the deceased at the time of the making of a Will.
  • questions over whether inappropriate pressure has been brought to bear upon the person when making their Will

These can be very challenging and concerning issues that may have considerable impact on other family members.   Although Court proceedings can and should in certain situations be considered, there is also considerable scope for looking at alternative ways of resolving issues, for example through mediation.

Mediation is an informal and non confrontational alternative to court proceedings. It avoids public exposure in court and reduces delay.  It is usually far more time and cost effective than going to court.

According to the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution more than 75% of cases settle on the day of mediation or shortly afterwards.  From my own experiences both as a mediator and in acting for those involved in resolving disputes I would strongly recommend that consideration is given to mediation in trying to resolve these types of dispute.

Julian Cann is a Consultant Solicitor with QualitySolicitors Gould & Swayne and Mediator based in Glastonbury.

Legal advice may vary with the circumstances of each case - be sure to take your solicitor’s advice.

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