Probate Problems and Disputes

When coping with the death of a loved one, the last thing you want to deal with is problems with probate. What is already a daunting process can quickly become overwhelming. At Thornton Jones, we understand the pressure you are under, and our skilled probate solicitors are ready to help you navigate whatever challenges probate may present.

We can help you address a wide variety of probate problems, from the most common to the most complex. Probate problems can be diverse, sometimes involving a family dispute and other times simply involving practical issues that make the process more challenging. Such scenarios might arise when:

  • Your loved one has died without making a Will (called dying intestate)
  • Your loved one made a Will but did not appoint executors
  • There is a problem with the executors or administrators
  • There is a problem with the beneficiaries
  • The deceased was domiciled in a foreign country
  • The deceased owned property or land in a foreign country

Let us help with this stressful situation so you can focus on yourself and your family during this difficult time. For expert advice about probate and estate administration, get in touch with our probate solicitors in Ossett, Wakefield or Garforth, West Yorkshire today. Alternatively, please fill in our online enquiry form for a quick response.

Probate problems

We have a vast range of expertise covering all types of probate problems and disputes, including:

The deceased died intestate

When a person dies, someone (usually a close friend or relative) needs to take on the responsibility of administering their estate. This involves closing the deceased’s bank accounts, paying debts, paying Inheritance Tax and distributing inheritance to the beneficiaries.

There are 2 main issues when someone dies without making a Will:

  • They have not left any instructions about who to give their money and property to
  • They have not appointed anybody (called executors) to deal with the administration of the estate

Inheritance

If someone dies intestate, their money and property will be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy. Only married partners, civil partners, children, and other close relatives are able to inherit under the Rules. This means that unmarried partners are unfortunately unable to inherit if the deceased does not leave a Will.

We can provide advice about distributing inheritance under the Rules of Intestacy. We can also help you make a claim if you have not received as much inheritance as you need. For more information about inheritance disputes, please visit our Contentious Probate Solicitors page.

Estate administration

If you want to administer your loved one’s estate but you have not been appointed as an executor because they did not leave a Will, you will need to apply to become an administrator instead. To do this, you need to obtain a Grant of Representation, referred to as Letters of Administration.

Only certain people can apply to become an administrator, including:

  • The deceased’s spouse or civil partner
  • The deceased’s child
  • Others who can inherit under the Rules of Intestacy

Unfortunately, you cannot become an administrator if you were the unmarried partner of the deceased.

There can only be up to 4 administrators, so if more people are entitled to apply and those entitled cannot agree who should apply, there could be a race for the Grant of Representation. The Grant will be granted to the first person to apply.

The deceased did not appoint executors

A Will is still valid even if the deceased does not appoint any executors to deal with their estate. Just like if there was no Will, you will need to apply for Letters of Administration to become an administrator instead.

Practically, your job will be no different from an executor appointed under a Will. We can help you take the steps necessary to become an administrator and provide advice on administering the estate (including handling your responsibilities on your behalf).

Problems with executors or administrators

Problems with executors or administrators can be wide-ranging, covering everything from a simple reluctance to act to outright fraud and deception. We can handle all kinds of executor or administrator related issues, including:

  • You have been appointed as an executor but you do not want to act
  • You are a beneficiary but the executors do not want to act or they are all deceased
  • The executors or administrators are failing to administer the estate or not doing it properly. For example, you suspect:
    • Executor or administrator fraud
    • That the executors or administrators are being negligent
    • That the executors or administrators are purposely obstructing or delaying the administration
  • There is a family dispute that makes the executors or administrators unable to administer the estate in an unbiased way (in this situation, it may be worth appointing an independent administrator who has no connection to you or the deceased)

Problems with the beneficiaries

Common issues with beneficiaries include disputes over inheritance (both with other beneficiaries and people left out of the Will) and where there are issues with the beneficiaries themselves, for example where they are bankrupt or cannot be located.

The beneficiaries are bankrupt

If you are in charge of administering someone’s estate but the beneficiaries are bankrupt, you will need to make any inheritance payments to their trustee in bankruptcy rather than directly to the beneficiary.

We can help you make the necessary investigations into whether someone is bankrupt and liaise with the trustee in bankruptcy on your behalf.

The beneficiaries are missing

We can help you take all possible steps to track down missing beneficiaries or, if they cannot be located, take steps to administer the estate in their absence. This could include:

  • Taking out insurance to pay out if the missing beneficiaries are eventually located
  • Applying to court for permission to administer the estate under the presumption that the missing beneficiary has died

For information about disputes between beneficiaries, please visit our Contentious Probate Solicitors page.

The deceased was domiciled in a foreign country

If the deceased was domiciled in a foreign country, the law in that country that will usually apply to the management of their estate. However, a Grant of Representation is still required to deal with English and Welsh assets.

Domicile refers to the country that is considered a person’s permanent home. This is not necessarily the country in which they were born or in which they were living when they died.

We can provide advice on administering someone’s estate where they were, or may have been, domiciled in another country and the impact on the probate process.

The deceased owned property or land in a foreign country

It is common for a person to have been domiciled in England or Wales but to have also owned land or property in another country, such as a holiday home. In many cases, it will be the law in that country that determines how property must be dealt with. We can provide advice about dealing with foreign assets and handle the process on your behalf.

Why choose us to help with probate problems?

We have decades of experience and specialist expertise in the area of probate and estate administration. Our talented team includes Liz Fyfe who is a member of STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), an organisation for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning matters.

Liz and Nicola White are also members of ACTAPS (the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists), an organisation of practitioners who specialise in probate problems, dispute Wills, inheritance disputes and other trust and probate related issues.

Thornton Jones is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Get in touch with our probate solicitors in West Yorkshire

For expert advice about probate and estate administration, get in touch with our probate solicitors in Ossett, Wakefield or Garforth, West Yorkshire today. Alternatively, please fill in our online enquiry form for a quick response.