Probate Litigation

We offer a free initial interview to people needing advice on whether you have a right to challenge a will (Probate Solicitor Portadown)

Disputed Wills (Probate Solicitor Portadown)
Make no mistake about it, contesting a will or objecting to Probate is a specialised job that most general practice lawyers have no clue about. A specialist contested probate solicitor is a rare lawyer having to have mastered the disciplines of both contentious and non-contentious legal action. Most lawyers in the UK have their feet firmly planted in either court work which includes civil litigation and criminal representation or in areas of probate law that do not involve litigated advocacy such as trusts or conveyancing. In order to successfully contest a will or object to the appointment of particular executors or administrators or to take action for failure to properly carry out the role of executor it is essential that the lawyer dealing with these complex matters has detailed expertise and experience in both contentious and non-contentious matters.

Legal Action (Probate Solicitor Portadown)
Our lawyers deal with contentious probate, which may involve objecting to a will due to validity issues of the document in question or where there is a claim from someone who was not included as a beneficiary, or was inadequately provided for including relatives and dependents. We also deal with caveats which may delay or ultimately prevent the appointment of specific executors. In addition we can take action for the removal of executors or administrators where the appointment is inequitable or in circumstances where they may have carried out their duties negligently or fraudulently. If you would like to receive free initial advice about a contentious will from a specialist contested probate solicitor just complete the contact form or call the helpline without any further obligation.

Matters that we can help with and with which we can usually give instant advice include:-

Legal claims for disputed probate issued in a court of law are increasing, particularly for homemade or DIY kit wills. A disputed will can be challenged by a contested probate solicitor on behalf of a potential beneficiary in a court of law and may be held to be invalid if it fails to satisfy legal requirements which include:-

  • the person making the will must be over 18 years old
  • it must be made without undue influence from another person
  • the person making it must be of sound mind and aware of its meaning
  • it must be signed in the presence of two witnesses at the same time who must also sign in the presence of the person making the will and each other
  • a witness who is a beneficiary will lose their inheritance whilst the will remains valid

If the situation of a lost will arises it is possible in certain circumstances for a contested probate solicitor to use a copy of the will to obtain a grant of probate however such action may be challenged by the beneficiaries of an earlier will who may attempt to show that the later will was not lost but destroyed by, or upon the instructions of, the person making the will in an attempt to revoke the document such method being allowed by law. In these circumstances it is up to the beneficiaries of the later will to prove that the destruction or loss of the will was not an intentional revocation by the person making it. In these cases it is inevitably necessary to provide detailed evidence supported by witnesses or documentation to prove such a contested claim in a court of law.

If there is no provision for a dependent in a will then the terms of the will can be challenged and the court can make provision for those who should have been provided for which includes a spouse, partner, a minor or a mentally disabled person. Anyone who a court may consider to be a dependent is entitled to take legal action on the basis that the deceased had a responsibility to them which was not properly discharged.

It does sometimes happen that executors or administrators object to the assessment of inheritance tax made by the Capital Taxes Office. We are often able to assist in these cases particularly by use of a deed of variation of the will or simply by representation in negotiations with the tax authority.

If my you have any questions and want an immediate response please contact our Mr Kevin Neary who is happy to answer your questions by return of email to

Proceedings we issued were successfully settled in substantial estate valued at approximately £1 million. The Defendant agreed to a court ruling revoking a homemade will in his favour. The Estate now passes to the next of kin of the deceased who stood to be disinherited under the terms of the will.

We successfully argued that at the time of the will that the deceased was not capable of making a will and therefore lacked testamentary capacity. The Client was represented by Sheena Grattan BL and Patrick Lyttle QC instructed by this office.

Licensed to practice in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

A vital extra dimension to all these services is that, since we are licensed to practice in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, we are uniquely placed to advise the increasing number of businesses choosing to pursue commercial projects on both sides of the border.

Being licensed to practice in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, we provide high-quality, all-Ireland legal services to business. Our Strategic location in the city of Portadown near the border and within easy reach of Belfast and Dublin also offers obvious advantages.


Kevin J Neary
Notary Public Solicitor
Advocate – Principal

Educated at St Colman’s College in Newry, Kevin graduated from University College Dublin in 1982 with a degree in Law (BCL).

He graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a Certificate of Professional Legal Studies in 1984 and was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Northern Ireland in 1984. He was later admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland in 1992, as well as in England and Wales in 2008. He qualified as a Solicitor Advocate in 2013. He is also a certified Mediator.

Kevin has worked at Donnelly Neary & Donnelly since he was admitted to the Roll in 1984 and has been a partner in the firm since 1988.

Kevin is a Notary Public, and is currently the President of the College of Notaries in Northern Ireland. He is also a Trusts and Estates Practitioner (TEP) of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and a member of the NI Commercial Property Lawyers Association. Kevin currently acts as Treasurer for the Irish Legal History Society and is Deputy Chair of the Statutory Committee for the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland.

Kevin has experience in all areas of practise; however, Kevin specialises in commercial property, as well as in general conveyancing, trusts and wills.

Brendan Hagan

Brendan Hagan LLB graduated from Queen’s University in 1973 with a BA Honours Degree in Modern History.
Brendan commenced practising as a Solicitor in 1978 and completed his apprentice with John P Hagan.

Brendan specialises in Criminal, Matrimonial and employment law and is a Solicitor Advocate and a member of the Children Order Panel.

Brendan has acted in a number of high profile criminal cases as well as Public Enquiries.

Ellen Hartles

Educated at St Patrick’s Academy Dungannon, Ellen graduated from University of Ulster Magee with a degree in Law with French (LLB).

Ellen obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Studies from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University Belfast in 2017.

Ellen works from our Portadown Office JPH Law, our Armagh office Gordon Wallace & Co and our Dungannon office Simmons Meglaughlin & Orr.

Ellen specialised in Conveyancing, Employment and Wills.

Kate Ervine
Solicitor – Principal

Kate Ervine graduated from Queen’s University and completed her degree in Law & Accountancy in 2006 and Trust & Estate Administration in 2009.

Kate was formerly employed by two provincial firms before joining the practice in August 2007. Kate specialises in Conveyancing, Administration of Estates; contentious Probate; Will drafting; Agricultural law and Taxation. Kate is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

Kathryn Hanna

Educated at St Joseph’s Grammar School Donaghmore, Kathryn graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2002 with a degree in Law and Politics (LLB).

Kathryn obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice with Distinction from Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne in 2003.

In 2005 Kathryn was admitted as a Qualified Solicitor in Northern Ireland, England and Wales.
Kathryn worked in our Portadown office JPH Law in 2018 and later moved to our Dungannon office Simmons Meglaughlin & Orr.

Kathryn is a multifaceted general practice Solicitor who specialises in Property, Probate and Wills. She also practices in Matrimonial Law, Children’s Law, Personal Injury and General Litigation.

Michael Grant
Solicitor – Principal

Michael graduated in law with LLB Hons from Queens University Belfast in 1985 He works with JPHLAW as well as being the Principal of Campbell & Grant in Newry.

Michael’s legal expertise includes conveyancing, criminal law, commercial property acquisition, sales development, residential property development, licensing, planning, trusts, inheritance tax, wills and estates both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland.

Aoife McKibben

Aoife was educated at Assumption Grammar School, Ballynahinch, before attending Queen’s University Belfast, where she graduated with a degree in Law & Politics (LLB).

She then studied at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Queen’s University Belfast, and was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in 2011.

Aoife has particular interest in litigation and family law, as well as probate and criminal law.

Helen Wan

Educated at Portadown College, Helen graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 1995 with a degree in Law (LLB).

She then studied at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Queen’s University Belfast, and was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Northern Ireland in 1997. Helen has a Certificate in Commercial Conveyancing, and also has an ILM Level 5 Diploma in Leadership.

She currently sits on the Board of Governors for Waringstown Primary School.

Helen has a particular interest in residential conveyancing, commercial property, wills, and the administration of estates.

About Us

The firm aims to give its clients the benefit of long experience, which is considerable bearing in mind the fact that all of the partners have been in practice in Northern Ireland for over twenty or more years.

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