Wills and Trusts Disputes – Covid 19

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Whilst the courts may have physically closed their doors, this has not stopped Wills and Trusts disputes (also known as Contentious probate cases) from progressing. Claims are still being issued, court directions and orders are still being complied with, and trials are still taking place.

One of the biggest changes we have seen is the introduction of a new of practice direction which gives parties the opportunity to extend the time to comply with a rule, practice direction or court order from 28 days to 56 days, by agreement between the parties. The courts are acknowledging that with the current lockdown, self-isolation or illness, it may be difficult for parties to be able to progress their claims by the previous court timetable.

Prior to the Covid19 pandemic there were certain types of hearings that would routinely take place by telephone, but we are now undertaking virtual hearings via Zoom, Skype for business and Microsoft Teams.

There is also greater emphasis for certain applications made to the court to be considered on the written evidence alone, without the need for a hearing. Again, this allows for the administration of justice but without endangering public health.

It has not been easy, the courts have made changes to allow for cases to continue as best they can without too much disruption, so as not to prejudice the parties, if possible.

Earlier this month, Amanda Melton was involved in a remote hearing which involved 10 parties most of whom were represented. A challenge! but all ran smoothly, and the hearing was managed very ably by the Master.

Whilst we all adapt to working remotely from home, it is inevitable that changes to our working practice will need to be made. However, we have seen an increasing amount of co-operation between parties which is most certainly needed whilst we all try to adjust to our new “normal” way of life.

This is a difficult and uncertain time however, if you would like to discuss a contentious probate matter then please contact our team. We are experienced in dealing with the following types of disputes:

  • Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 claims
  • Contentious probate and estate administration disputes
  • Claims to remove executors
  • Challenging the validity of a will based on undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity and/or knowledge and consent
  • Trust disputes
  • Equitable remedies including proprietary estoppel, resulting trust and constructive trust claims
  • Professional negligence claims
  • Disputes between trustees and beneficiaries
  • Disputes with professional deputies

Speak to our Family Disputes experts today

If you have concerns about how to handle an estate, please contact Amanda Melton who heads up our disputed wills team and has a wealth of experience in dealing with disputed Wills.

Call us on 03456 381381 or email us at estatemanagement@ibblaw.co.uk