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Freeths - Law firm

Contentious Probate Solicitors

Finding the right solution

What is involved?

With an ageing population and an increased prevalence and awareness of conditions such as dementia, disputes over trusts and estates have escalated in recent years. Add to this a desire to hand wealth down to younger generations and also a greater diversity in family structures, it is unsurprising that disputes in this area are becoming more and more common. They can affect virtually any family.

Whether you are seeking to challenge or defend the validity of a will, bring or defend a claim under the Inheritance Act, protect your interest in an estate, or have been excluded from an estate, we have the expertise to guide you through the litigation process. We can also help with lifetime claims, such as actions against trustees, disputes concerning deputyship, financial abuse, and professional negligence claims.

We focus on providing you with a clear plan from the outset, designed to support you through the distress and upset which is often a by-product of these disputes. Unlike other firms, we encourage other funding arrangements in the right circumstances, rather than just where they are necessary.

Call our Contentious Trusts & Probate team now to see how we can help you.

Why choose Freeths?

  • We encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution and can represent you at mediation
  • You can rely on our extensive experience of acting in high value and complex cases
  • We will help you through the process of funding your case – you will be given clear costs information and, in appropriate cases, we will look at alternative funding options such as a “no win no fee” arrangement, insurance, or third party funding
  • A number of our team are members of ACTAPS (Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists) and hold qualifications with the STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners)

top tier 2023 STEP vulnerable client 2019 logo

Freeths are ranked Top Tier in the field of contentious trusts and probate in the Legal 500.

Our specialist team is experienced in handling all aspects of contentious trust and probate litigation.

We can draw on support from our impressive private client, tax, agricultural and commercial teams and we often deal with farming estates, family businesses and international assets disputes.

Understanding the legalities from the outset may help to avoid disputes. Freeths offer a wide variety of information guides regarding Trusts, Probate and Estate Administration. Please get in touch using our enquiry form if you would like a copy.

Related podcasts

Topical Talks with Title Research – Sarah Bolt & St John’s Chambers

Discussing ways in which a Will can be contested, practical steps to minimise the risk of challenges arising in the future, and how to avoid common mistakes made in the probate process –
Click here to listen

Key contacts

Sarah Foster

Sarah Foster
Managing Partner - Oxford & Joint Head of Private Client Services Division

0186 578 1055

Mark Keeley

Mark Keeley
Partner & Joint Head of Private Client Services Division and Platinum Connect Services

0345 274 6875

Alternatively complete the form below:

Contact Us


"Freeths are a leading player in the field of Contentious Trusts and Probate. The specialist team sits within an organisation that is very well resourced and which offers a full range of private client and litigation services to high net worth clients. Despite their heavyweight presence, leader Mark Keeley and his team are all very down to earth and approachable."

(The Legal 500, 2023)


"Good national coverage, large and experienced team of specialists who are all down to earth and approachable."

(The Legal 500, 2023)


"They offer an excellent service across the whole range of contentious trusts and estates and Court of Protection work. Always focused on the client’s commercial objectives. Pleasant to deal with."

(The Legal 500, 2023)


"The whole team is well-informed and professional. Whenever I spoke with any staff member in this team, they were extremely helpful and genuinely cared – they spoke to me as a client and a person – and all really went above and beyond to help. I would go so far as to say, I don’t think I would have achieved the result I did had it not been for Freeths and, in particular, Laura Short and Nicola Heslop."

(The Legal 500, 2023)


"The team deals very sensitively with very delicate matters, they are able to communicate difficult matters sympathetically and they try to reduce emotional charge in order to reach the right outcomes."

(The Legal 500, 2023)


"From my perspective it has a great deal of inhouse specialist knowledge, including a very strong private client offering. Thus the private client side and the litigation side work well together to ensure that the client receives very well rounded advice. Some solicitors rely on counsel to guide the case, but this team is very confident and knowledgeable. They think very strategically about the conduct of the litigation. There is also very good quality partner oversight, which is also proportionate."

(The Legal 500, 2023)


"Mark Keeley stands out because of his vast experience as a mediator so he has developed a unique insight into what drives people in litigation and how a settlement might be fashioned. This is vital because most of this type of work does settle. Both he and Max Orbach are very bright and knowledgeable. I have therefore valued their legal insights in difficult cases."

(The Legal 500, 2021)


"Freeths has a well-established and well-regarded private client team. The strength of the team transcends the regional offices. It is often involved in large private client disputes also involving the elite London private client firms."

(The Legal 500, 2023)


"Proactive, practical advice backed up by excellent technical knowledge. Great service and client led approach which results in clear, and where necessary (and in a positive way) ‘blunt’ advice."

(The Legal 500, 2021)


"...experienced team of specialist contentious trust and probate lawyers."

(The Legal 500, 2022)

Notable Work

  • Acting for an administrator in a complex claim for an account on the footing of wilful default against former administrators. The events complained of spanned a period of over 30 years.
  • Recovering money from attorneys who have acted in breach of trust, removing attorneys/deputies who have abused their position, or challenging lifetime gifts that have been procured by undue influence.
  • Successfully defending a will challenge brought by a claimant against his defendant clients. The claim would have meant the defendants’ losing their home, but Robert successfully secured the transfer of the property over to his clients through High Court litigation.
  • Advising a beneficiary of a £1.2 million estate on the construction of the terms of a will whose entitlement is unclear from the wording of the will and representing that beneficiary in pre-action negotiations.
  • Successfully resisted a £2 million+ unusual mutual wills case, where it was alleged that because of that mutual will, our client held his late wife’s estate on trust for the claimant (a non-family member). Complex company and estate issues arose, given (i) our client’s 100% shareholding in estate companies and the claimant’s position as director in them; and (ii) the fact that our client and the claimant were joint executors of the late wife’s will. A settlement was reached prior to trial whereby a small % of the £2 million was paid, including costs.
  • Recently acted for the daughter in a disputed multi-jurisdictional estate. The deceased (born in Italy) had lived in England for over 40 years. His wife alleged that he had adopted England as his domicile of choice and made an Inheritance Act claim against his £1.5 million estate. We obtained witness evidence to show that he had not lost his domicile of origin. The claim was settled favourably at mediation.
  • Mark has represented well over 200 clients in claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 in estates, ranging from a modest value up to estates exceeding £25 million.

Client service

‘Doing the right thing’ is at the heart of Freeths. Find out more about our excellent client service and the strong set of values that guide the way we work.

Our values


Talk to us

Freeths are a leading national law firm with 12 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

Contact: 03301 001 014

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