Overview Can we help?

What happens when there is a dispute over someone’s Will or estate? Disputes regarding estates are becoming increasingly common. Complicated family structures, with clients having second or even third families, longer life spans and generally more valuable estates all tend to give rise to circumstances in which there are more possibilities for disputes regarding Wills and estates.

Whether you are contesting a Will, or you are unhappy with the way in which an estate or trust is being administered or have not received what you expected from an estate, our specialist contentious team can help. We have a specialist team who are experienced in dispute resolution and court applications relating to trusts and estates. Combining this with our commercial experience enables us to deliver timely and effective solutions to our clients. We understand the financial uncertainty which often exists with these types of disputes and will always provide detailed information regarding costs and the funding options available.  This can include a “No win – No fee” approach.

We can advise on:

  • Will & legacy disputes   
  • Family provision claims (proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975) where certain people are able to claim for provision against an estate on the basis that what they receive is unreasonable   
  • Disputes in relation to trusts & family arrangements  
  • Disputes about administration of trusts and estates including claims against executors or trustees
  • Court of Protection issues

Members of our team offer a "complete service" as they are trained specialists in Probate and Trust dispute work and also liaise closely with our other specialist colleagues dealing with the law relating to the elderly and to incapacity, capital taxation; and if required, our commercial and family departments. 

All our team are either members of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) or the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), ensuring specialist knowledge is available to you.

A number are also members of the “Solicitors for the Elderly” and also “Dementia Friends”.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that people sometimes fall out over Wills, trusts and estates. We will always work hard to achieve the best result we can and advise you of your options throughout the process.

To give us some initial information about your circumstances and the problem you have, please complete the  Estate Administration Questionnaire.

Our promise to you:

  • We will help you focus on what’s best for you
  • We will help you achieve your goals within the best possible time
  • We will explain things using clear non-technical language
  • We will provide you with a clear pricing structure

We are ranked as a leading firm for Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate in Legal 500’s independent review of solicitors.

Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS)

We are delighted to be an accredited member of the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS). Being a member of WIQS demonstrates that we follow best practice procedures to meet the highest standards of technical expertise and client service in providing tailored wills and probate advice to consumers.  All members of our “Tax and Estate” team are WIQS accredited.   Please see our "Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme Client Charter" for the benefits of using a WIQS accredited firm.

Client testimonial regarding a contentious probate case:

"James, I can't thank you enough for everything you have done for me and you were so right about Amy, she was absolutely brilliant. She was direct when required, understanding and compassionate to all parties and great fun which helped a very stressful day. 

I learned yesterday how it is so easy not to get the right advice and very costly and I am extra grateful to you for your excellent advice and all the support you have shown me throughout this ordeal. I simply can't thank you enough. I want to apologise profusely again for disturbing your day off on Tuesday and thank you for taking the time to speak to me on your day off. It was invaluable. 

Thank you also for intervening to save the house sale, I'm very, very grateful to you".

 

Payment options

Payment options - Contentious probate and trusts

Introduction

We are often asked by clients what options they have to pay our invoices, particularly where they may not be able to immediately raise the money to do so.  We have set out below the options available.

All contentious probate & trusts work (apart from fixed fee meetings) is invoiced by us at the end of every month.  These invoices will capture all chargeable time spent by your team of lawyers working on your instructions.  They will therefore vary from month to month to reflect the amount of work we have undertaken on your behalf.

If you find yourself unable to pay any invoice, we ask that you contact us immediately; we can only help if we know there is a problem.  Rather than having to pursue you for unpaid invoices we would much prefer it if we can agree a solution which satisfies both you and us before it becomes a real issue.

Interest on late paid invoices

Do remember that if you fail to pay any of our invoices within 14 days of receiving them, you will be charged interest on the outstanding balance from the date of the invoice to the date of payment at the County Court interest rate on judgement debts applicable from time to time.  This is currently 8% per annum. 

OPTION 1 - PAY AS YOU GO

You can opt to pay our invoices every month from your cash resources.  These will be for varying amounts and you will therefore need to be able to pay whatever those amounts are from month to month.  We accept a number of payment methods:

 

  1. By debit or credit card (no fees).  To do so please either visit one of our offices or telephone the accounts team on 01622 698049 who will be pleased to process your payment;
  2. By electronic bank transfer.  Our account details are: Lloyds Bank, 3rd floor, Black Horse House, Medway Wharf House, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1QS.   Sort code 30-95-37.  Account No. 00005763.  Please ensure you quote your invoice number and matter reference (taken from your invoice); or
  3. By sending a cheque with your name, invoice number, and matter reference (taken from your invoice) clearly written on the back to our accounts team at Monckton House, 72 King Street, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1BL.

Money on account

We ask you to pay some money on account of the charges and expenses we expect to incur at the beginning of the matter and may ask for further payments on account as we progress.  When we put these payments towards your invoice(s) we will send you a receipt.  We will offset these payments against your final invoice but it is important you understand that your total charges and expenses may be greater than any advance payments you may have made.  If you do not make such a payment on account when asked to do so, we shall be entitled to stop working for you until the payment has been made.

What will this option cost?

Assuming you pay the invoice(s) within the 14 day period, there is no cost for this option.

OPTION 2 - MONTHLY STANDING ORDER

If you would like the certainty of knowing how much you will be paying towards your legal costs each month then we can consider accepting a regular monthly payment by standing order.

We will still issue an invoice each month so you know how much you are being charged.  The invoice will confirm what fees have arisen that month, what payments have been received from you and what your carried forward balance is.

We will agree with you what a reasonably acceptable monthly payment would be based on our experience of the type of matter and will review that arrangement with you every 3 months.

It will be a specific requirement that you maintain the standing order for as long as it takes to pay off all our invoices and any interest that has accrued.  If you fail to keep up these payments then the full outstanding balance of all unpaid invoices plus interest will become payable by you immediately. 

We shall also be entitled to stop working for you until the payments have been made.

What will this option cost?

You will be charged interest on any outstanding balance from the date of the invoices to the date of payment.  Your monthly payment will be applied to the oldest balance first and any interest which has arisen on that balance so your interest costs are kept to a minimum.

OPTION 3 - INSURANCE

In some cases, clients already have access to legal expenses insurance, for example through household/motor insurance policies or employee benefits packages or they may qualify for “after-the-event” insurance.  Such policies are usually only available for contentious work such as employment claims, contentious probate or trusts and general civil/commercial disputes.

In either case, some or all of your costs will be paid to us on your behalf by the insurance company.  If you already have such protection in place or want to find out if you qualify for “after-the-event” insurance, speak to your adviser.

You remain liable for all your costs, whether or not we get paid by your insurance company.  Thus, if we only get paid some of your costs, you will be required to pay the outstanding balance.

We will only issue an invoice once we know we are going to be paid under the terms of the insurance policy.  This might be in stages but is more usually at the end of the matter.  However, we will issue you with a monthly statement so you know how much our charges are.

It will be a specific requirement that you maintain the insurance policy and meet its terms at all times.  If you fail to do so then we will invoice you for all our charges to date and the full balance will become payable by you immediately.

What will this option cost?

We will charge you interest on the on-going balance of costs shown on your statements.  This interest will be payable by you when an invoice is issued and will not be covered by the insurance policy, so you will have to pay this personally.  If you are taking “after-the-event” insurance you will also have to pay the premium.

OPTION 4 - LEGAL EXPENSES LOAN

You may qualify for a legal expenses loan.  We can discuss how much you should budget to borrow in order to cover all your legal costs.  We can then help you find a suitable lender.  You then manage repayment of that loan from your own resources on a monthly basis.

If you want to find out if you qualify, speak to your adviser.

What will this option cost?

You will be charged interest by the loan company under their terms.

OPTION 5 – CONDITIONAL FEE AGREEMENT

Depending on the type of case and your prospects of success we may be prepared to consider offering you a “no win, no fee” agreement to cover your contentious probate & trusts case.  If we agree to this arrangement you will not have to pay us any costs until the end of the case.  If you are successful then we will be entitled to be paid our costs plus a success fee (being a percentage increase in our normal charging rates) to take account of the fact that we have not been paid during the case.  You may recover some or all of these costs from your opponent or from the estate/trust fund but in many cases, these costs have to be paid out of whatever you are awarded from the estate/trust at the end of the case.

If you are unsuccessful then you will not have to pay us anything but you may have to pay your opponent’s costs.  To protect you against this risk, we will advise you how you can insure against such a liability, although you will have to pay the one-off premium for that policy.

It will be a specific requirement that you maintain the agreement policy and meet its terms at all times.  If you fail to do so then we will invoice you for all our charges to date and the full balance will become payable by you immediately.

What will this option cost?

You will be required to pay the insurance premium in any event and, if you are successful, you will have to pay us the success fee in addition to our normal charges.

OPTION 6 - LEGAL AID

Please note that we do not undertake work which is funded by the Legal Services Commission (formerly "Legal Aid") and in any event most contentious probate & trusts work does not qualify for Legal Aid assistance.  If you believe that you may be eligible for public funding and you have not already discussed this with us then you must notify us immediately, otherwise we will proceed on the basis that you have chosen not to apply for public funding even if you might be eligible.

 

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I would like to thank you for all  your help and support in dealing with my mother’s share of her property and for always replying promptly to my phone calls and correspondence, I would also like to  thank your secretary Colleen for her assistance as well.
Roy Hall

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