Wills, Trusts and Inheritance Disputes

"Their approach is first class, and their ability to give a strategic overview on an incredibly complex issue is brilliant"

Chambers and Partners HNW Guide 2020

By their nature, disputes over Wills, Trusts and Inheritance often occur at times of emotional vulnerability and distress.  Bringing or defending such claims is especially demanding and can become acrimonious and fraught very quickly.

 

Seeking expert legal advice at an early stage to help resolve matters can therefore be crucial and can potentially avoid litigation and costly court proceedings.

Our specialist Wills, Trusts and Inheritance Disputes team have extensive experience in dealing with disputes of this nature and are ranked in both Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 as experts in this field. 

The spectrum of disputes is as varied as the families affected.  We act for trustees, executors, personal representatives, protectors, beneficiaries, charities and for individuals claiming against estates, trustees or other parties. We can assist with all types of probate disputes including invalid wills, claims for reasonable provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and professional negligence claims relating to Wills, Trusts and Inheritance.

We often advise on complex and cross-jurisdictional issues, and regularly work alongside other intermediaries based offshore. We have specialist expertise in fraud cases involving trusts and are instructed to assist in asset tracing (including obtaining freezing injunctions) and anti-trust litigation. We work closely alongside our leading family team in divorce cases involving trust property and we act in disputes arising in relation to family farms and landed estates.  We are regularly instructed in relation to contentious matters arising in the Court of Protection and are experienced in advising charities in relation to their potential fraud exposure as well as defending charitable legacies and other such related disputes.

Examples of some of the recent cases we have acted in can be found below:

  • Successfully defending a challenge to the validity of an English will on the grounds that the testator could not have known and approved the contents of the will because she did not speak, read or understand English.
  • Acting for a client in a highly acrimonious dispute regarding his father’s estate involving allegations of destruction of a will, forgery and the concealment of overseas assets.
  • Advising a client in relation to a professional negligence claim against the solicitor who drafted her husband’s will, an application for rectification of that will on the basis of mistake, and a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • Advising a Guernsey trust company in a cross border investigation into issues surrounding the settlor and main beneficiary of a family trust. The claims included allegations of undue influence and the misappropriation of assets including extremely valuable artwork.
  • Assisting a beneficiary of a substantial trust in relation to the disclosure of information about the trust and also advising on allegations of breach of trust and proceedings for removal of the trustees.
  • Advising the deceased’s widow in relation to challenging trustees’ discretion in respect of the distribution of death benefits and associated complaint to The Pensions Ombudsman.
  • Acting on behalf of a trustee in bankruptcy where the bankrupt had divested himself of assets, including through offshore trust structures before making himself bankrupt in the face of significant tax liabilities due to the failure of aggressive tax avoidance schemes.
  • Advising a Panamanian trustee company of a Cayman trust in a complex piece of multi-jurisdictional trust/fraud litigation relating to the transfer of assets from another off-shore trust.
  • Acting in relation to a challenge to the validity of three wills made after the deceased’s diagnosis with brain cancer and investigating the misappropriation of assets prior to his death.
  • Advising the children of the deceased in relation to a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, in circumstances where their father had made a death bed will cutting them out of his estate.

The circumstances of each case are unique, which necessitates a tailored response to the individual needs of our clients and an approach that balances sensitivity with pragmatism. We employ a wide range of methods to help promote early settlement where it is possible, including setting up informal meetings with opponents or representing clients at mediation. However, if a resolution cannot be found, we engage in and manage litigation as pro-actively, efficiently and cost effectively as possible to ensure success for our client at trial. We always give clear advice to our clients about costs and the various options for funding a claim. We are also alive to the often very personal nature of such disputes and the want to limit as far as possible what is being said or reported in the public eye. We therefore work closely with our reputation management team to control this aspect of your matter where necessary.

Our specialist team of lawyers from our Dispute Resolution, Family and Private Client teams include members of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and trained mediators.

For more information, look at our case studies and read our frequently asked questions on wills, trusts and inheritance disputes and our Need to Know guides for Trustees and Beneficiaries.

WHAT CLIENTS AND DIRECTORIES HAVE SAID

"the most valuable thing he did was to be able to see the big picture. He made sure the client got what he wanted to achieve. He has great commercial awareness."

Chambers UK High Net Worth, 2017

"'Efficient and pragmatic team' - is well equipped to handle complex multi-jurisdictional work"

Legal 500, 2016

"Kingsley Napley LLP’s ‘efficient and pragmatic team’ is well equipped to handle complex multi-jurisdictional work. Head of team Ryan Mowat ‘throws his heart and soul into his clients’ cases and knows when to fight and when to settle’"

Legal 500, 2016

Also recommended are the ‘exceedingly bright’ Katherine Pymont, ‘very reliable and capable’ Kate Salter, and associate Laura Phillips, who ‘really knows her stuff’

Legal 500, 2016

"Sources describe him as "extremely thorough and responsive" and appreciate that he "rolls his sleeves up and gets stuck in."

Chambers UK, 2016

"Responsible for coming in and really growing this area at the firm''

Legal 500 UK, 2014

"Mowat 'gives robust advice and is not afraid of the fight'"

Legal 500 UK, 2014

"Clients of Kingsley Napley LLP can draw on the expertise of the flawless Ryan Mowat."

Legal 500 UK, 2014

 

"They are very good at getting on top of things quickly and efficiently to achieve an advantageous settlement."

 

 Chambers UK High Net Worth, 2017

 

Sources describe him as "extremely thorough and responsive" and appreciate that he "rolls his sleeves up and gets stuck in".

Chambers UK, 2016

"Responsible for coming in and really growing this area at the firm."

Legal 500 UK, 2014

Mowat "gives robust advice and is not afraid of the fight."

Legal 500 UK, 2014

"Clients of Kingsley Napley LLP can draw on the expertise of the flawless Ryan Mowat."

Legal 500 UK, 2014

 

their client service is exceptional”

Chambers and Partners High Net Worth Guide 2020

they’re very prevalent in the market” and “they’re very good in this world, and have a growing reputation”

Chambers and Partners High Net Worth Guide 2020

they have strength in depth” and “they’re extremely professional and very experienced”

Chambers and Partners High Net Worth Guide 2020

They are a good cohesive unit, they go the extra mile" 

Chambers and Partners High Net Worth Guide 2020

They do serious, high-value and complex work. These are noteworthy cases which make a splash in our industry"

Chambers and Partners High Net Worth Guide 2018

Practice head Ryan Mowat continues to attract complex and varied work including an increasing proportion of work involving fraud or with offshore elements"

Legal 500 UK, 2019

Anna Metadjer is 'very competent, calm and reassuring'"

Legal 500 UK, 2019

adopts an easy and collaborative style which is a great catalyst to case preparation and ultimately a successful outcome for its clients"

Legal 500 UK, 2019

Kingsley Napley have "really penetrated the market" and are "becoming an established player in this area."

Chambers UK High Net Worth, 2018

They were extremely helpful and delivered everything you could ask for on time. They were prompt, helpful and friendly."

Chambers and Partners High Net Worth, 2018

a strong private client team with some real strength in the contentious trust area." 

Chambers and Partners HNW Guide UK, 2018

Kingsley Napley is becoming a significant player in this area…..The team has considerable expertise in areas such as undue influence claims, validity claims, and complex cross-border asset- and people-tracing cases, as well as professional negligence claims relating to wills and trusts”.

Legal 500, 2017

They always produce consistently high quality work and I feel they have the ability to deal with complex and sophisticated disputes"

Chambers UK High Net Worth, 2017

Recent Cases

Recent Cases

Removal of trustees and/or executors may not be the only option

READ

Setting aside a will on the ground of a lack of capacity

READ

Setting aside a will on the ground of want of knowledge and approval

READ

Setting aside a will on the ground of fraud

READ

A beneficiaries entitlement to trust documents

READ

Disputes about interests in property

READ

Spouse claims for provision from an estate

READ

No inheritance for an adult child

READ

Undue Influence and misappropriation of assets

READ

Related pages

Wills, Trusts and Inheritance Disputes FAQs

This page sets out a number of Frequently Asked Questions in relation to Wills, Trusts and inheritance disputes as well as a glossary of terms.

Trustees: Need to Know

A comprehensive suite of "Need to Know" information for Trustees.

Civil Fraud and Investigations

The international nature of commerce and growing reliance on electronic communications mean that the number and value of fraud claims is rising.

Commercial and Contract Disputes

Corporate disputes can be stressful, disruptive and damaging. We provide tactical and strategic advice to businesses and individuals.

Dispute Resolution

Dealing with a dispute professionally and commercially takes skill. We assist and support our clients with both legal knowledge and strategy.

Injunctions

If you need to prevent the loss of an asset, damage to reputation, or protect against personal harm, it may be necessary to apply for an injunction.

International and Cross-Border Disputes

When disputes involve individuals or organisations in different countries, those involved often face an array of complex issues in various jurisdictions.

Litigation Funding Options

Funding litigation can be expensive and cause concern. We hope to alleviate these concerns by offering our clients a bespoke funding package.

Professional Negligence

Our experienced team of litigators act for claimants in bringing claims against professionals when they get it wrong.

Reputation and Media

Protecting our clients’ reputation and maintaining control when they are the subject of media scrutiny is what we do.

News and blogs

View all

News

Contentious Trust and Probate Quarterly Round-Up Spring 2019

Contentious Trust and Probate Quarterly Round-Up Winter 2018/2019

Contentious Trust and Probate Quarterly Round-Up Autumn 2018

Contentious Trusts and Probate Round-Up: January 2018

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: June 2017

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: May 2017

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: April 2017

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: March 2017

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: January 2017

Wills and Probate Round-Up 2016

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: October 2016

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: Bumper Summer Vacation Edition 2016

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: May 2016

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: April 2016

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: February 2016

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: January 2016

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: December 2015

Contentious trusts and probate monthly round-up: November 2016

Contentious trusts and probate monthly round-up – October 2015

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: September

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up

View all

Blogs

How do you dispute a lifetime gift based on undue influence?

How do you dispute a will based on undue influence?

Knowledge and approval - When is a will suspicious?

How wills can be challenged and how charities can manage legacy disputes

A reminder on costs in the context of probate litigation and the importance of mediation

Who died first? Judgment handed down in Scarle v Scarle

The tragic death of Peter Farquhar: an extreme case of undue influence?

Good news for potential claimants in Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 claims

Increase in legacies in Wills, increase in legacy disputes? Part 5 - Proprietary Estoppel

Increase in legacies in Wills, increase in legacy disputes? Part 4 - Will Construction

Increase in legacies in Wills, increase in legacy disputes? Part 3 - Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

Increase in legacies in Wills, increase in legacy disputes? Part 2 - Validity of a Will

Increase in legacies in Wills, increase in legacy disputes?

Who died first? When the date of death matters

What if you’ve been left an inheritance, but not in the way that you want?

Top 10 Contentious Trust and Probate Cases of 2018

Abuse of Power of Attorney: Safeguarding against the increasing threat

Don’t take your parent’s word for it, it may not be worth its weight in gold (or property)

Dealing with costs in trusts and probate proceedings – Part 2: exceptions to the general rule in probate claims

Dealing with costs in trusts and probate proceedings - Part 1: liability for trustees

Minor children and reasonable financial provision

Capacity on the cobbles, Coronation Street’s inheritance dispute storyline

The extent of restrictions placed on trustees by a trust deed (South Downs Trustees Ltd v GH)

Sign on the dotted line… Does a will need a witness’ signature to be valid?

Knowledge approval claim fails because the circumstances surrounding the will were not suspicious

“But you promised me!” – Are promises enough when someone passes away?

A recent court ruling on the forfeiture rule

Time’s up! When does “late” become “too late” to make an application for provision under the 1975 Act?

Wills by WhatsApp?

Protecting vulnerable will makers – will the Law Commission review go far enough?

Annual statistics for Trusts, Wills and Probate released

The difficulties (but not impossibility) of challenging wills prepared by solicitors

The residence nil rate band - do I qualify and should I change my Will?

Contesting a forged or fraudulent will

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: February 2017

Challenging the Status Quo? Is Rick Parfitt's third wife entitled to a claim after he purportedly changed his will five days before his death?

Trust Litigation Cases – 2016 Round Up

Adult child’s claim in respect of her father’s estate fails

Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: Bumper Summer Vacation Edition 2016

Disputed wills and mental capacity

What happens to a divorce settlement if a spouse dies during or after divorce proceedings?

Practical advice for avoiding potential inheritance disputes

Battle of the beneficiaries

Rights of cohabitants - setting the record straight

Will Forgery Claims: The 2015 Lowdown

Ramsey vs Ramsay – Will declared valid despite controversial split and question of mental capacity

Inheritance disputes are hardly the preserve of the few

Mediation: The question is not if, but when

Inheritance claims by adult children – update

Common problems with wills and how to fix these

Unlikely beneficiary of a Will – Sharp v Hutchins

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+44 (0)20 7814 1200

enquiries@kingsleynapley.co.uk

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