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.

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