Wills & estate administration

Making a will is one of the most positive things you can do for your family's future. Planning can ensure the best possible outcome for the generations to come.

A will gives you control over the future of your assets and possessions, avoiding disputes or misunderstandings. Making the right choices depends on clear, practical advice.

At Frettens, we offer a wide range of Wills, probate and lifetime planning advice. Our team has a depth of experience and offers responsible, honest and friendly guidance on preparing or updating your will. We can also help you with:

Get in touch to set up your free initial appointment

Contact our Wills and probate solicitors at your local branch in Christchurch or Ringwood, Dorset to set up your free initial appointment.

For information about our estate administration and probate costs, please visit our pricing page.

Our Wills and estate administration expertise

When it comes to making plans for the future or dealing with the final affairs of a loved one, you need a lawyer you can trust to make sure every important matter is dealt with. We offer a fully inclusive service that can cover all of your needs, from Will writing, to future care plans, to advice about vulnerable family members.

Wills

Writing a Will is the most important thing you can do to ensure your loved ones are taken care of after you pass away. If you do not make a Will, your money and property will instead be distributed according to the rules of intestacy which might not reflect your wishes. For example unmarried partners are not allowed to inherit under the rules.

Our Will solicitors can help you create a strong will that clearly reflects your wishes and ensures that everyone important in your life will be properly taken care of once you have passed away. We always draft Wills with tax efficiency in mind and we can provide advice about planning for Inheritance Tax and your options for reducing it.

Estate administration & probate

We understand that losing a loved one is one of the hardest things you can go through in life. Having to go through probate at such a difficult time can feel overwhelming. Our probate solicitors have extensive probate and estate administration experience and approach all matters with the aim of taking as much pressure off as possible.

We can handle all aspects of the process on your behalf, including reviewing the Will (if there is one), handling money and closing the deceased’s bank accounts, paying debts, paying Inheritance Tax and distributing inheritance to the beneficiaries.

Grants of representations

A key part of handling probate is applying for the grant of representation, a legal document that gives you the right to administer someone’s estate after they die.

The process differs depending on whether the deceased left a Will or whether they died intestate. We can provide clear advice on the process you need to go through and handle the application process on your behalf.

Powers of attorney

Making a power of attorney is the best way to plan for a future where you need extra support.

We are living longer than ever before which means many of us are at greater risk of being diagnosed with an illness such as dementia or having an accident during our lifetime. A power of attorney allows someone you trust (called an attorney) to make decisions for you in the event you become unable to make decisions for yourself in the future. Your attorney can be authorised to make decisions about your health and welfare and/or your financial affairs.

It is always worth considering a power of attorney to ensure your best interests are protected, no matter what the future brings.

Living wills / advance decisions

Like powers of attorneys, living wills (now called advance decisions) allow you to express your wishes in case you lose the capacity to make a decision for yourself for the future.

Specifically, a living will allows you to refuse future medical treatment (including lifesaving treatment), for example, because you are unconscious or you have an illness such as dementia.

Not only does this allow you to make sure your wishes are respected and followed, it also saves your loves ones from having to make a difficult decision on your behalf.

Long term care planning

As you grow older, you will probably be thinking about whether you will eventually need long term care and how this will be funded. It is common for people to feel concerned about the costs of care and particularly about the impact it will have on their loved one’s future inheritance.

We can provide practical advice about planning for long term care, including:

  • The types of help available
  • How care is funded and your entitlement to local authority funding
  • Advice about paying for care and taking steps to protect your assets, including your family home
  • Benefits advice
  • Advice to carers and loved ones of people who need extra support

Tax planning

No longer is Inheritance Tax just a tax for the rich; rising property prices mean that it affects more and more people every year.

With a carefully drafted Will and specialist lifetime planning, you may be able to heavily reduce (or even eliminate) your liability for Inheritance Tax. We can provide advice on a wide range of wealth protection methods, including taking advantage of tax reliefs and exemptions.

Trusts

Trusts are a great way to make the most of your money and property, both during your lifetime and after you pass away. They can be used to protect assets, tax efficiently pass on wealth to your loved ones, and provide for vulnerable family members.

Court of Protection

If you are concerned that someone close to you is struggling to make their own decisions about things like their finances and personal welfare, we can help you take the necessary steps to support them.

Unless your loved one made a lasting power of attorney authorising you to make decisions on their behalf, you will need to apply to the Court of Protection to become a deputy.

The Court of Protection exists specifically to help people who lack mental capacity, for example, because of an illness such as dementia or a brain injury. As well as appointing deputies, the Court of Protection has the power to make a will on someone’s behalf and make important one off decisions about matters such as consent to medical treatment.

The process of applying is complex so consulting a specialist Court of Protection solicitor in these matters is essential.

Deeds of variation

You may be able to change a loved ones Will after their death so long as any beneficiaries left worse off by the changes give their consent. There are many reasons why you may want to vary a well including to:

  • Reduce the amount of inheritance tax due
  • Provide for someone who was left out of the will
  • Make the will clearer

We can help you make a deed of variation to change the Will and will handle any associated legal matters such as filing a copy of the deed with HMRC if necessary.

Disputed Wills

Disputes over the validity of the Will, inheritance, and the way the personal representatives are handling the estate are all common issues that can arise after the death of a family member. These situations can be very distressing and, if not handled carefully, it is not uncommon for families to suffer permanent damage to their relationships.

Our contentious probate solicitors are highly experienced in helping clients resolve Will, inheritance, and estate administration related disputes. Our focus is to provide clarity on complex and combative situations to help individuals find solutions with their family without any unnecessary conflict.

Equity release

As you grow older, you may reach a point where you need some extra income, whether to pay for living expenses, care, to go travelling, or to help a loved one onto the property ladder. You could sell your home and downsize, but it’s understandable if you want to stay put, particularly if you’ve lived there for many years.

If you are at least 55 years old, you could get an equity release to turn some of the equity in your home into cash. We can help you with the legal aspects of getting an equity release, including liaising with your provider.

Get in touch to set up your free initial appointment with our Wills and estate administration solicitors.

Contact our wills and probate solicitors at your local branch in Christchurch or Ringwood, Dorset to set up your free initial appointment.

Our Testimonials

  • Everything was explained and was easy to understand - very helpful advice.

    Mr & Mrs Scott
  • Heather dealt with me in a friendly and practical way.

    Mrs Beale
  • Everything went very smoothly and quickly.

    Mrs Mantle

Ask us at Frettens

Q. Can you contest a will?
Q. What are the grounds for contesting a will?
Q. Is it hard to contest a will?
Q. How can I contest a will?
Q. Who pays for contesting a will?
Q. Can you contest a will after probate?
Q. How long does it take to contest a will?

Q. Can you contest a will?

The answer to this question is yes, if there are grounds to do so. 

Whilst someone’s wishes upon their death are of paramount importance, the courts do consider the needs of others known to the deceased who may be disappointed by the contents of the will.  It may therefore be possible to make a claim for financial provision from the estate of the deceased. 

In addition to this, there may be concerns as to the contents or the circumstances surrounding the making of the will, which invalidates it.

Q. What are the grounds for contesting a will?

Grounds for contesting a will due to validity. The other grounds the court will consider when looking at whether a will is valid include:

  • Mistake or error in the drafting of the will.
  • If there is evidence that any pressure was placed on the person making the will as to its contents. Do you have suspicions regarding the contents or making of the will?
  • Doubts as to the will makers mental capacity or their understanding of the contents of their will or their assets at the time they made their will.
  • Proprietary estoppel.  Have you been promised an inheritance, acted to your detriment as a result of that promise and then found out that you have been left nothing from the estate?
  • The will has not been signed properly or there were not the required number of witnesses present.

Q. Is it hard to contest a will?

The answer to this question will depend on the facts of each individual matter. We offer a free, no obligation initial consultation and can advise you whether we consider that there are sufficient grounds to make a claim.  You can then consider your options.

Q. How can I contest a will?

If we consider that there are sufficient grounds to dispute the validity of a will then we would initially look to settle the claim through correspondence and mediation. 

If this is not possible, as a last resort, it would be necessary to commence court proceedings.  We can consider various payment options when dealing with disputed will cases including deferring payment until the outcome of the case where the merits allow.

Disputing a will is never easy as we understand that you are grieving a loved one and embarking on litigation.  Our team are sympathetic to the circumstances surrounding these types of dispute and can guide you through these stressful times.

Q. Who pays for contesting a will?

The courts have a wide discretion when looking at costs for contested wills.  The standard costs awards are:

  • Costs can be ordered to be paid from the estate
  • The losing party could be ordered to pay the winners costs
  • In some instances, both parties will bear their own costs

Q. Can you contest a will after probate?

Yes, you can contest a will after probate has been granted, however there is a strict time limit on claims

Q. How long does it take to contest a will?

If you are claiming financial provision then there is a strict 6-month deadline from the date of the grant of probate. If you think you have been left out of a will, but have a financial need that should be considered then the sooner you act the better. 

For some other claims such as validity issues, you have a longer period but it is always best to act quickly.  We can advise you on time limits in relation to your particular dispute over the will.