Disputing a Will

How to dispute a Will

If a deceased person’s Will does not adequately provide for you, or you think the Will was improperly made, we can help you bring a claim to dispute the Will.

Our Disputes team are skilled litigators and are experienced in negotiating successful claims against Wills on behalf of our clients throughout England.

Most Will disputes are settled through mediation and do not go to court. Mediation is a voluntary form of negotiation, which allows two parties to come to an agreement on how to solve the dispute settlement themselves without involving the courts. Mediation can go some way to minimising the impact on relationships between family members, which may have been damaged during the disagreement.

But if settlement cannot be reached then we are very experienced in taking cases to Court and making sure you have the best possible chance of winning your claim.

If you believe that a Will was improperly made, or that you were not provided for and should have been, speak to our expert Wills Dispute team on 01273 604 123 or email enquire@bbc-law.co.uk or fill out our enquiry form.

Disputing A Will
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Disputing A Will

Disputed Wills are becoming more commonplace in the UK. In this guide, we cover our 5 key tips to maximising your chances of a successful claim, and how we work with our clients to achieve the best possible outcome.

Grounds to contest a Will

If you are contesting a Will, it is likely that you do not believe that the Will properly reflected the wishes of the person signing it. Some of the reasons for contesting a Will are that you feel the deceased:

  • Did not know they were signing a Will
  • Did not understand the Will
  • Was persuaded or pressured to sign it
  • Did not have proper mental capacity

There are strict rules about how a Will should be signed. You can contest the Will if the will was not signed and witnessed properly.

If you think that the will was not prepared properly by a professional will writer, or the executors are not dealing with the estate properly, then you may also have a claim against the will writer or the executors.

Can I contest a Will after Probate?

There is a strict time limit for contesting a Will. You must bring a claim within six months from the date of the grant of probate. Sometimes the court allows claims after this this period, but it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible in order to find out where you stand.

How long does it take to contest a Will?

It is difficult to judge how long it will take to make a claim to contest a Will. We will work with you to set out your claim clearly and the reasons for it. Our experience means it is often possible to negotiate a settlement quickly and without expensive court proceedings. If the parties cannot agree a resolution or mediation fails then court proceedings are necessary. In that case it may take one or more years before a claim is finally agreed.

The important issue is to make sure that the solicitor advising you has experience in bringing such claims. The initial letter of claim sets out clearly and in detail the relevant information and states your claim. Often a claim settles quicker if the issues are properly researched. The letter must set out the issues clearly and the reasons for contesting a Will.

Do I have to go to Court?

We will try to settle your through mediation first. Mediation is a form of negotiation allowing two parties to come to an agreement without going to courts. It is usually quicker, cheaper and confidential. If meditation does not work we can issue formal court proceedings to contest a Will. We will work with you to pursue your claim in the most cost effective way.

The Process of Contesting A Will

Can you contest a Will? - Initial meeting with you

Our first step will be to hold an initial consultation with you. We will discuss your concerns around the situation and whether you believe the person who made the Will (the testator) lacked knowledge, mental capacity, and approval of what the Will contained, and if you feel they were under undue influence to make the Will.

You may have started to feel concerned following or prior to the death. It may be that someone is benefiting from the Will, or has been made an executor to the Will, which you find surprising. Relations may have become difficult and stressed between various parties after the death which has led to the seeking of legal advice.

Contesting a Will Time limits

There a time limits within which any challenge to a Will must be made. Once we have discussed your claim with you taken your instructions, we will check whether a Grant of Probate has been obtained. That determines what time limits will apply, so it is important that you do not delay consulting us.

What makes a Will invalid - Establishing how the Will was made

We need to know how the will was made. We need to know whether it may have been made under pressure or undue influence from someone. There may be questions about the mental capacity of the person who made it. Often we will request a Larke-V-Nugus statement from the solicitor who originally drafted the Will or witnessed its execution. We will ask the Will maker for a copy for the Will file. The Will maker is also asked for a statement outlining the dealings with the person who made the Will during the Will drafting process.

The health of the deceased when making the Will is relevant. We may request the Medical records of the deceased. This is important if the claim involves undue influence or a lack of mental capacity.

Chances of successfully contesting a will – Discussing your claim with you

When we have the information about how the Will was created and signed we will discuss our findings with you. We will tell you the chances of successfully contesting a Will. We will talk to you about whether we offer the other side a chance to go to mediation, which can reduce costs, or if we are likely to have to go to court. We will also talk to you about the cost of contesting a Will and who pays to contest a Will.

If you are happy to proceed, we will prepare formal Letter of Claim which sets out why you are challenging the Will and the outcome you want. When you agree it, we send it to the opposing party and/or the deceased’s Executors.

The success of your claim in contested Will cases depends upon the quality of the evidence presented to the Court. It is essential to seek advice from a solicitor you trust. The solicitor must be clear about your chance of success of your claim to contest a will. We have many years’ experience in bringing successful contested will claims.

Successfully challenge a Will - Next steps

Do not be caught out by the strict time limits that apply to challenging a Will. If you think the Will did not properly provide for you or was created when the person making it was influenced by another or did not have mental capacity, you should talk to us without delay.

Talk to our Contested Will team now by telephoning 01273 604 123 or email enquire@bbc-law.co.uk or fill out our enquiry form.

Daisy Tester

Daisy works in our Litigation team and is Head of Contentious Probate and Estates.

Read More About Daisy
Daisy not only got the information I required but a lot more regarding the property making my case and who owned what clearer. Daisy's response times in replying and obtaining the information I required was second to none. Daisy was compassionate, very easy to talk to and Daisy's knowledge of the law and how Daisy could obtain the information I required is second to none. I cannot thank Daisy enough.
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