Private wealth disputes

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Gateley Legal

Dealing with a dispute which relates to your personal wealth or your family circumstances can be very difficult; it’s hugely emotional having to consider your own mortality and your family’s future without you.

No one can afford the financial or emotional cost of private wealth disputes. Left unattended, we see situations where disputes cause unnecessary distress and consume families for years, sometimes decades. Alongside this personal cost, private wealth disputes can cause financial costs that could be reduced or even eliminated completely if the dispute is addressed with professional private wealth lawyers.

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A high quality team of litigators who have in depth knowledge in the field and a wide range of experience of contentious trusts and probate disputes. They are good at guiding clients through a case and explaining the process in clear terms.
Legal 500 UK, 2024

What do we do?

Our private wealth lawyers understand the emotional and financial costs of private wealth disputes and use our considerable experience in advising people in similar circumstances to resolve private wealth disputes as quickly and effectively as possible.

We actively encourage engagement in alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation where possible. But when it calls for it, we robustly defend our clients’ interests in court proceedings. 

Our private wealth lawyers advise clients on a variety of trusts and estates from those of modest value through to high-value, complex and cross-border estates and regularly help clients to deal with the following private wealth disputes.

Disputes during someone’s lifetime

Challenging a lifetime gift

People are increasingly being advised (whether by family, friends or professional advisers) to gift assets, including property, to family, friends, dependents or trusts. There is no doubt that this can be solid tax advice. But what if the person making the gift was vulnerable, they lacked the capacity to make it or were subjected to coercion by the recipient of the gift or a third party? 

We are extremely experienced in investigating these matters and advising the person who has made the gift and regrets it, the recipient of the gift, or any other interested party as to whether it may be possible to challenge the gift and reverse it.

Disputes over co-ownership of property

Increasingly, properties are owned by more than one person and are co-owned with: a family member; a friend; a partner, etc. This can create difficulties when relationships break down or the co-owners take different views as to what should happen with the property.

It may be that the legal title to the property is in only one name but you contributed to the purchase price, or there was an agreement that you would make payments towards the mortgage or for repairs and improvements in return for a share in the property. You might be the owner of the property and are being asked to give up a share in the property. 

We will give you clear and concise advice on your position and how to progress matters quickly.

Court of Protection disputes

As medical innovation increases, and people live longer, inevitably the number of individuals who lack mental capacity to deal with their own affairs increases. In these circumstances the Court of Protection can be utilised to protect the rights of such individuals and a court-appointed attorney or deputy will be put in place.

Sadly, there are occasions where the actions of an appointed attorney or deputy need to be investigated where there are concerns as to how that person’s property and affairs are being managed.

We regularly help individuals, attorneys, deputies, and other professionals in bringing or defending claims in the Court of Protection involving a person’s property and financial affairs.

The team provides an excellent service focused on achieving the client’s objectives, whether that is best served through negotiation or litigation.
Legal 500 UK, 2024

Disputes when someone dies

Bereavement is a painful and emotional time. And when there is a dispute over a will or the way an estate is being administered, it can make it even tougher.

Will disputes

We recognise how difficult it can be when you are left out of a will when you were expecting to benefit, or someone seeks to argue that a will is invalid.

  • Did the person making the will have the necessary capacity to do so?
  • Does the will reflect the deceased’s wishes?
  • Was the deceased coerced in to making the will?
  • Was the will properly executed?
  • Is the will a forgery?

We have extensive experience in contesting or defending the validity of wills. This can be a tricky area of law, but we will help guide you through the process, designing a strategy to help you bring or defend a claim in a pragmatic and sensible way to achieve a successful outcome.

Inheritance Act disputes 

If you have you been left nothing by a close relative or someone who supports you, a claim may be possible under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This may also apply if you have you been left less than you need, or the person has died without leaving a will and the intestacy rules means you are insufficiently provided for or at all.

Inheritance Act claims are often urgent as you may have an immediate need for cash or assets or are being told you need to leave an estate property. There is a short window in which you can bring a claim under the Act following the issue of the Grant. We progress matters quickly in order to bring you the security that you require.

We can also act for beneficiaries in opposing such claims, whether it is the claim as a whole or the level of financial provision sought; and help the executors and administrators to remain neutral as their role requires to ensure they are protected from cost orders being made against them personally.

Pre-death agreements

Disputes sometimes occur when someone dies and the promises made by the deceased in their lifetime are not included in their will, or no will was ever made. This often happens when someone is promised a business or farm and work for that business for many years at a low wage relying on the promise that the business or land will pass to them upon death. When this does not happen, can you make a claim? The answer is possibly; there are several routes to consider: proprietary or promissory estoppel; constructive trusts or resulting trusts. 

We have extensive experience in dealing with these claims and will advise as to whether such a claim for an interest in the estate is viable.

Estate administration disputes

It can be extremely upsetting if an estate is not being properly administered. Whilst estate administration can be slow and challenging – as well as emotionally fraught – it should still be progressed without unnecessary delay.

If you are a beneficiary and think that the executors or administrators are not managing the process correctly or quickly enough, we can investigate to see what the problems are and what can be done to resolve the situation. If the executors or administrators are not acting appropriately, we may advise to remove them and replace them with suitable alternatives.

If you are administering the estate and have been criticised unfairly by a beneficiary or are not getting the co-operation from a co-executor or trustee to administer the estate, we will give clear and concise advice so that you can protect your position.

Property disputes

Property disputes are often compounded when someone dies. What do you do if you inherit a property and someone is living in the property but refuses to vacate or pay rent for their occupation? You may have lived in the property for a long period and are now being asked to leave because it has been inherited by someone else who wants to sell it or occupy it themselves. 

These matters are often urgent, particularly when the property is being marketed for sale and you should therefore take early advice. We can advise on the best way to protect your share of any sale proceeds or to advise on your position if someone is threatening to sell your home.

Professional negligence

When a professional adviser fails to do their job to the standards expected, you can be left with a substantial financial loss.

We regularly advise on all aspects of professional negligence in relation to wills, trusts and estate planning, whether that advice has been given by a solicitor, a will writer, an accountant, a tax adviser, or a financial adviser. The will or trust may have been badly prepared, or ineffective, or they may result in unintended tax consequences. You may also have been given poor investment advice that has led to losses to an estate or trust. These cases are often high-value, complex and may be cross-border. 

It may be possible to take action to correct the mistake or rectify the defective will or trust and then pursue those at fault for your losses. 

Over the years, we’ve successfully brought and defended claims on behalf of individuals, executors, trustees, charities and trust companies against a wide variety of professionals.

Book a free consultation with our private wealth team

Submit your details below, and we’ll arrange a free, no-obligation chat at a time that suits you. 

Got a question? Get in touch.