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With the rising number of families contesting a relative’s Will and major cases regularly making the headlines, contested probate is becoming an increasingly important area of law. To meet the increased demands of this specialist area, Debenhams Ottaway has just recruited contentious probate and trusts lawyer, Michael Henry.

Michael has many years’ experience in contested probate, and is an associate member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS). He joins one of the largest and most experienced teams in Hertfordshire, who advise on all legal aspects of personal wealth management including Wills, tax planning, probate and estate administration.

Probate, a term often not understood by many, is the process of dealing with someone’s estate (property, possessions, cash, savings) when they pass away. The rise in contested probate could be explained by a number of factors, from complex family structures to the increase in DIY probate – claims against executors for “getting it wrong” have more than tripled in the past year. Just recently it was reported that the family of late blues musician BB King who died in May 2015, are set to contest his Will and bring a claim against his executor on the grounds of undue influence and misconduct.

Many professionally drafted Wills contain complex elements such as trusts to save inheritance tax, so it is important for executors to seek timely specialist advice to save money and worry. Executors carry a certain amount of personal liability in their role and they can open themselves up to substantial legal claims if they are unaware of the law and their obligations.

Louise Attrup, executive partner at Debenhams Ottaway comments “Michael is a great addition to our ever growing team. We’ve seen a significant rise in contentious probate claims and have strengthened our expertise to meet these demands and ensure our clients get the best advice and service.”

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.