Proactive measures for probate solicitors to avoiding probate disputes

Probate disputes can be intricate, costly, and emotionally challenging for all parties involved. As a probate solicitor, it is crucial to ensure that your clients’ estates are managed smoothly and without contention. One proactive step to mitigate the risk of probate disputes is conducting a thorough will search. In this blog, we’ll discuss some proactive measures probate solicitors can take and highlight the benefits of utilising The National Will Register to safeguard against potential disputes.

Probate disputes can arise for various reasons, including ambiguities in the Will, family disagreements, or challenges to the validity of the document. Such disputes not only prolong the probate process but can also strain relationships and deplete estate assets through legal fees. As a solicitor, taking proactive measures to prevent these disputes is essential to uphold your clients’ wishes and preserve family harmony.

Being proactive

By being proactive in ensuring the compliance and certainty of probate cases, you reduce the likelihood of any of your probate cases going to dispute.

The validity of the will is one of the biggest reasons cited for will disputes, and probate solicitors can take steps to ensure the right steps have been taken, such as:

  1. Before probate, advocate for the importance of will registration with The National Will Register to your clients Will simplify the process of locating a will down the line;
  2. Incorporating will searches into your practice for each case to seek assurance of a will’s location, should one have been made;
  3. Insisting on will searches even if a will is known and located. Just because one is there, doesn’t mean it’s the most up-to-date or valid will; and
  4. Advise executors communicate with all family members and any other beneficiaries of the will, to ensure clarity on their end. Have them document interactions if you feel it necessary.

These points will bring any uncertainty to the surface to be dealt with during the initial probate process.

The role of will searches

Conducting a comprehensive will search is a fundamental step in estate planning and administration. By verifying the existence and location of a will, solicitors can ensure that the deceased’s wishes are properly executed. Additionally, will searches help identify any potential conflicts or discrepancies that may lead to disputes during probate proceedings.

One in five will searches find a will that is unknown to the executor – or supersedes a known will – so it’s important to be diligent, even if there is a will held by the executor.

The National Will Register offers solicitors a reliable and efficient solution for conducting will searches. By accessing a centralised database of registered wills, solicitors can quickly determine whether a will exists and its current location.

By using The National Will Register, probate solicitors can search over 10.5 million will records, almost half of all wills in the UK, as well as a locally-targeted search for unregistered wills for certainty and can make an assumption beyond reasonable doubt as to the testacy of a person and where a will is should one be made.

This demonstrates due diligence, ensuring compliance with professional standards and regulatory requirements, as well as instils trust among executors, beneficiaries, family members and more.

As solicitors, safeguarding your clients’ interests and preserving family harmony are paramount objectives. By adopting proactive measures such as conducting will searches through The National Will Register, you can mitigate the risk of probate disputes and ensure the efficient administration of estates. Investing in these proactive steps not only benefits your clients but also enhances the reputation and credibility of your practice in the legal profession.