Contested probate

What is the value of a contested probate claim?

A surviving spouse or civil partner may be awarded whatever the Court considers would be reasonable in all the circumstances, whether or not this is required for his or her maintenance.  The starting point is often what a party would have received following a divorce, however this can be deviated from (upwards or downwards) depending on any competing claims and individual circumstance.   The lifestyle enjoyed by the deceased and the surviving spouse or civil partner will be very relevant to assessing what is reasonable so, for example, the widow of a millionaire who actually chose to live a very frugal lifestyle may be awarded less than the widow of someone who borrowed to excess in order to live the “high life” even though the estate of the former will clearly be much greater.  It also doesn’t matter if the surviving party has their own independent income that is sufficient to meet their needs.  They are still entitled to a “reasonable” share of the estate.

For all other applicants, unlike a surviving spouse or civil partner, their claims of contested probate are limited to such reasonable financial provision as is necessary for their maintenance, i.e. what they actually need to live on.  In many cases this will be guided by what the deceased was actually providing at the time of their death, unless this is limited by necessity by the actual assets in a deceased’s estate. However, there are exceptions and expert legal advice should be taken to ensure that all relevant factors are taken into consideration.

The Court has a wide discretion in relation to the orders that can be made in contested probate cases, and have the power to make a number of orders including periodical payments, lump sum payments, transfer of property, the sale of the former family home, outright inheritance of a property not just a life interest.

Latest Blog

Business succession - how to protect your business on the death of a director

28/06/2018
How to protect your business if a director dies
If a director/shareholder of a small company dies, this can cause considerable problems. It can, for instance, result in disruption and unwanted interference in the business of the deceased...
Reintroduction of employment tribunal fees?

In a surprising announcement, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has confirmed that it may reintroduce fees for employment tribunal claims.  This would be a surprising U-turn by the government which was criticised for its tribunal fee structure which was introduced in 2013.  The fee structure was decl

Inheritance tax changes

The recent Budget saw the Chancellor announce reforms to Inheritance Tax rules which were widely expected following the Conservative Party’s General Election victory.  Currently, a married couple are able to access allowances of £325,000 each, which can be doubled up and applied as a single allow

Grandmother with Grandchild

The Prime Minister David Cameron has recently suggested that he would be “happy” to look at plans for so called “granny leave” giving working grandparents the right to take up to 18 weeks of shared paren