Legacies and probate disputes

BWB’s legacies and probate disputes team is made up of experienced lawyers from a range of disciplines, including charity and social enterprise, dispute resolution, corporate and property.

The team specialises in advising a wide range of international, national and local charities, as well as private individuals, on legacies and associated disputes. We have a wealth of experience to draw on, meaning quick and competitively priced advice for our clients.

From advising on legacy fundraising and day-to-day probate queries to helping you deal with difficult legacies (including those involving property), challenges to the validity of wills, problems with executors and their fees and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act, our team is able to provide a full legacy-related advice service.

We are committed to providing commercial but practical advice, taking into account all relevant matters including financial pressures and reputational issues. We also run an extensive programme of free events and seminars throughout the year to keep our clients up to date with changes to the law.

Our clients
We work with international, national and local charities and with private individuals on all aspects of legacies and disputed probate.

Our services
Legacy fundraising
For many years we have assisted clients who require advice on legacy fundraising, including advice on the legal aspects of legacy fundraising through written materials, events and one-to-one fundraising, preparing and reviewing legacy marketing materials and advice on setting up a new legacy fundraising campaign.

We host a number of legacy training events, including several in conjunction with the Institute of Fundraising, Remember a Charity and Legacy Foresight.

Legacy administration
We are frequently called on to provide day-to-day advice on issues that arise during the course of the administration of an estate, such as advising on dealing with executors and executor fees, estate accounts, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and appropriating assets to charities, property issues and entitlement to the grant.

We advise on the terms of legacies left to charities, including permanent endowment and legacies bequeathed for a particular purpose, and issues related to the charity’s entitlement to the legacy, such as whether a legacy has survived a charity’s re-organisation. We also regularly advise on cy-près schemes, ex gratia payments and the refusal of gifts.

Legacy training
We provide in-house legacy training to charities, taking a practical approach to the issues charities face. We are happy to plan the content of the training session with charities and tailor it to their specific needs.

Legacy disputes
Between them, our dispute resolution department has more than 50 years’ experience. We have acted for thousands of charities and private individuals in a wide range of legacy disputes, including disputes with executors, disputes regarding the validity or construction of wills, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, capacity issues and estoppel claims.

Examples of recent work

  • Acted for the successful claimant in a High Court (Chancery) claim concerning the construction and meaning of a particular clause in a homemade will
  • Acted for a national children’s charity in its defence to a claim brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Negotiated a pre-trial settlement on terms advantageous to our client
  • Acted for a faith-based charity in an application for a grant ad colligenda bona pending resolution of a claim against the estate to which our client was a beneficiary
  • Acted for a major national charity in its defence to a claim brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Multi-party litigation involving assets in different jurisdictions. Secured a settlement on terms advantageous to our client including a full order for its costs
  • Acted for a global relief aid charity in a dispute with the executors of a large estate. Successfully removed and replaced the executors, enabling the estate to be administered swiftly
  • Acted for a religious charity in a dispute involving a challenged will and company and property assets. Negotiated a swift settlement on our client’s behalf

Click here for more information on legacies and probate disputes.

This information was sourced from the Bates Wells Braithwaite website.