Mediation for Contentious Wills and Probate


Legal disputes can occur frequently in matters relating to inheritance. Contentious wills and probate can be incredibly distressing for grieving family members who may be at odds with each other whilst trying to carry out the wishes of their deceased loved one. Typical disputes might involve the validity of the will itself, claims under the Inheritance Act of 1975 or else disagreements related to the will’s Executor.

When contentious wills and probate results in a deadlocked situation, parties may decide to go to trial in order to resolve the case. However, the cost and stress of a court case may not be preferable for all, in which case mediation can be a successful way to negotiate contentious wills and probate.

Benefits of mediation for contentious wills and probate

As a type of ‘alternative dispute resolution’, mediation allows all parties, along with their contentious probate solicitors, to meet and negotiate their matters outside of the court environment. By appointing a third-party mediator to oversee the meeting, you will have an impartial figure there to help you reach a settlement which is agreeable to everyone involved. There are significant financial benefits to meeting outside of court. When dealing with wills and probate, warring families are working with a fixed pot of money from the estate which would be radically diminished if court fees and litigation are taken into account.

Aside from the financial benefits, you can also expect to reach a fair conclusion and remain somewhat in control of the outcome whilst guided by your contentious probate solicitors. As an informal style of settlement which is designed to encourage all parties to find common ground, there is considerably less stress involved for those attending mediation in comparison to going to trial. In fact, approximately 90% of mediation cases are known to be resolved outside of the court. 

When selecting a mediator, you’ll be able to choose someone who has experience in the type of contentious wills and probate case that you’re involved in. This person should be agreed by all parties as they will be acting as a neutral figurehead to oversee the negotiations.

Mediation during the Covid-19 pandemic

As mediation relies on the physical meeting of parties to negotiate their settlement, the social distancing requirements during the Covid-19 pandemic have made this more of a challenge for contentious probate solicitors and their clients. Usually, attendees meet in a building and may be divided into separate meeting rooms before coming together with the mediator and the relevant other parties. As this is not currently possible, contentious probate solicitors have been using communication tools such as HiHi to facilitate remote mediation which allows negotiations to continue moving forward. Such technology still enables meeting participants to be divided into separate ‘virtual’ rooms to discuss the proceedings, before coming together with the overall crowd of participants to discuss the outcome of the mediation meeting.

There are multiple benefits to continuing mediation negotiations by using a remote model. As well as the cost saving benefits of not having to pay for travel to a location which is convenient for both parties, remote mediation also allows attendees to dial in past the usual time constraints. Instead of worrying about catching the last train home or being caught up in rush hour, attendees can continue to stay online and continue discussing the various points of their case as desired.

Where mediation participants are elderly, remote meetings may actually be preferable over physical meetings as there is an increased level of comfort available if you’re able to negotiate from your own home.

As leading contentious wills and probate solicitors in Essex, Hook & Partners are committed to helping our clients resolve their disputes. We realise that these can be incredibly sensitive for everyone involved, which is why it’s important to bring these matters to an agreeable conclusion. Our team of contentious wills and probate solicitors in Essex is led by Russell who has extensive experience in delivering valuable contentious probate advice. If you’d like to get in touch to discuss your situation further, we are available for telephone or video call appointments. Please feel free to get in touch with us on 01268 692 255 or email to find out how we can assist.