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Bircham Dyson Bell (BDB) LLP and Pitmans LLP merged on 1 December 2018 to become BDB Pitmans LLP. More details can be found here

Will and Trust Disputes

This complex area of law requires professional advice as early as possible to avoid costly disputes. We believe that prevention is better than cure and pride ourselves on our approach to alternative dispute resolution.

Sectors and Services
Litigation

The creation, administration and winding up of wills, trusts and estates can go wrong in all sorts of ways no matter how well you plan. Whether you are contesting a will, having difficulty with trustees or beneficiaries, or just trying to work out your options under a will or trust, our experienced team can help.

We can advise on:

  • Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
  • Over-charging by executors or trustees
  • Poor estate / trust administration
  • Ex gratia payments
  • Validity challenges
  • Proprietary estoppel claims
  • Court of Protection matters

 

  • 1 Contesting a Will
    Will disputes by their very nature arise at a time of great stress and vulnerability for all involved.

    Each dispute is unique and our approach combines sensitivity and confidentiality with professionalism and objective advice. Where possible, we seek to achieve resolution out of court. Trial, while sometimes inevitable, is expensive, risky, and puts family matters in the public spotlight.

    We can advise on:

    • Lack of testamentary capacity
    • Lack of knowledge and approval
    • Undue influence
    • Fraudulent / forged wills
    • Improperly executed wills
    • Lost or destroyed wills
    • Negligently prepared wills
    • Interpretation, construction and rectification of wills
    • Proprietary estoppel and constructive trust claims

  • 2 Inheritance Act and Proprietary Estoppel Claims
    People are entitled to leave their estate in whatever manner they wish. However, there are two important ‘checks’ on this freedom.

    Firstly, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act – also known as the ‘Inheritance Act’ or ‘1975 Act’ – allows certain categories of people to make a claim against an estate on the basis they are financially dependent on the deceased, and the deceased’s will does not make reasonable provision for them. We have experience in bringing and defending Inheritance Act claims and, regardless of which side we are on, we will work to achieve an agreed resolution wherever possible.

    Secondly, where property is promised to someone, that person relies on that promise, and yet the property is not left to that person, a claim of ‘proprietary estoppel’ may arise. Often nothing is in writing and these claims require a technical, detailed approach.

    Our team has experience in these matters; Geoffrey Kertesz has been involved in a number of proprietary estoppel claims and wrote the chapter on proprietary estoppel in the 3rd edition of ‘Probate Disputes and Remedies’.
    Articles:
    For love (child) or money: Claims under the Inheritance Act
    I’ve been disinherited! Claims under the Inheritance Act

     

  • 3 UK and International Trust Disputes
    Increasingly, individuals and trustees face complex trust disputes involving more than one jurisdiction.

    Advising on these matters requires specialist knowledge and experience.

    We can advise on:

    • Bringing / defending claims to remove trustees / protectors
    • Bringing / defending breach of trust actions
    • Seeking the court’s approval of trustees’ actions (Beddoe applications)
    • Applications to set aside transfers into / out of trust
    • Dealing with beneficiaries’ rights to information
    • Claims as to ownership of property (TLATA 1996)
    • Trusts and divorce

    We assist professional and lay trustees, protectors / enforcers, administrators / executors, charities, and beneficiaries to resolve the most troublesome issues in trusts and estates, both in the UK and internationally.

    We work with offshore and onshore trustees, lawyers, accountants and investment advisers. Where necessary, notably in cross-border matters, we will assemble the right professionals required to resolve your matter successfully. Our skilled and seasoned body of trust, tax and litigation professionals stand behind our reputation as a market leader.

    We are currently able to offer a range of funding options, and are happy to talk through a no obligation consultation on your matter.

    We can also advise on:

    •  Disputes regarding the administration of an estate or trust
    • Non-contentious applications to the court
    • Professional negligence claims
    • Trusts and divorce

     

  • 4 Charity Legacy
    Charities require specialist advice. We assist charities in achieving positive results, hopefully out of court where possible, all the time being mindful of the compliance issues that face charities as well as their reputational concerns.

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