Contentious estates

Farrer & Co offers excellent people and advice and is always a go-to firm.

Legal 500 2014

With increasingly complex family relationships, greater personal wealth, cross-border movement and a heightened awareness of legal rights, will and inheritance disputes are increasingly common.

Our Contentious Trusts and Estates Team has extensive experience of handling a diverse range of probate and estate disputes in the UK and in other jurisdictions. We regularly advise on claims relating to the construction and rectification of wills as well as capacity issues. We also have particular experience of disputes about what assets form part of the estate, including claims based on community property and forced heirship principles. We have also been involved in some of the leading cases in the Court of Protection.

We advise both claimants and defendants in respect of claims for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. We understand the sensitivities involved in family disputes and will seek to provide objective and clear advice with a view to achieving a swift and pragmatic resolution to the dispute whether by litigation or alternative dispute resolution.

Testament to our expertise in this area is the fact that the team has won the STEP Contentious Trusts and Estates Team of the Year award in two consecutive years, in 2013 - 2014 and 2014 - 2015.

Recent work highlights:

  •  Acting for the widow in respect of a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 against her husband's £250 million estate.
  • Acting for the family defendants of a long-standing family trust in relation to the interpretation of the settlor's intentions and questions of a beneficiary’s entitlements to trust income and property.
  • Advising a beneficiary of an Iranian family estate in relation a Court of Protection application concerning incapacity issues.
  • Acting for the residuary beneficiaries of a multi-million pound estate in defending a claim brought against the Estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.

Reported cases:

  • Sheffield v Sheffield [2013] EWHC 3927 (Ch)
  • Re P [2009] 2 All ER 1198 (Application of “best interests” principle in relation to statutory will applications).

Some examples of publications by the team include:

  • Co-editing Trusts & Trustees – published by Oxford University Press – see link
  • STEP Certificate in Trust Disputes – course materials –  see link
  • “A Practical Guide to the Transfer of Trusteeships” published by STEP – 2nd edition published 2011


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More information

For more information contact one of our specialist advisers above or email us at

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