Associate Stephanie Kerr has become the first solicitor in Preston to become a full member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), a prestigious body that accredits the UK’s leading wills and inheritance dispute lawyers.

The new accreditation comes after a period of growth in our Preston-based litigation team following a spike in the number of contentious inheritance claims and contested wills across Lancashire – a trend consistent with the rest of the UK.

The number of probate claims issued in the Royal Courts of Justice soared by 20 per cent in 2019 UK-wide, the third consecutive year the numbers have risen according to figures from the Ministry of Justice. Probate claims are disputes seeking the court’s decision on whether the will of a deceased person is valid or not.

Stephanie has become a full member of ACTAPS, an organisation that recognises solicitors who are leading experts in the fields of inheritance claims and trust litigation. Applicants must have at least five years’ experience in contentious trust and probate law to become a full member, and this follows having to complete a three-year qualification course at the University of Law to be considered for associate membership.

Stephanie said: “To become a full member of ACTAPS is a real privilege, especially being the first in Preston to do so. It puts me in a good position to continue building Brabners’ contentious wills and probate offering across the North West.

“The number of contentious inheritance claims and contested wills has almost doubled in the past three years, largely due to changing family structures and an increase in homemade wills, which can give rise to errors and even allegations of forgery. Probate litigation is notoriously complex and it’s important for families to seek specialist advice early in the process of establishing whether there ought to be a challenge to a will or a claim against an estate.”

Litigation partner Tom Smith, said: “Stephanie is a fantastic asset to our team. Achieving this specialist accreditation is no mean feat and is testament to the exceptional skill and knowledge she has developed over many years. With the number of contentious inheritance claims on the rise in the region, Stephanie’s in-depth knowledge of the litigation process and her skills in providing emotional support are highly sought-after.”

Stephanie qualified as a solicitor in 2010 and has since focused on disciplines including contentious wills, probate and inheritance disputes. She regularly advises on challenges to the validity of wills, disputes with executors, contested applications in the Court of Protection, and applications for guardianship of missing persons. Originally from Chorley, Stephanie studied law at Manchester Metropolitan University before undertaking the postgraduate Legal Practice Course at UCLan and the ACTAPS Associate Education Course at the University of Law in London.

Stephanie has also undertaken bereavement training provided by the Cruse Bereavement Care charity, giving her additional skills in providing specialist advice and emotional support to clients.

We recently strengthened our private client team with the appointment of consultant Liz Braude, as part of a series of appointments to the Preston, Manchester and Liverpool offices.

As part of our personal offering, the team advise individuals and families on a range of matters, including putting in place a will, power of attorney or cohabitation agreement to complex tax matters and estate planning, trusts and financial settlements.

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