How to Successfully Contest a Will
Do you Think a Will was Unfair or Invalid?
If you are looking into how to contest a Will, you might have concerns about the capacity of the person who made it, how it was made, or if someone was left out of it. As expert contested probate solicitors, it is our job to advise you upon whether you have a good case for contesting the Will. If we do think you have grounds to contest the Will, we can make a claim on your behalf, guiding you every step of the way.
If you want to find out more about the process and read our key tips on contesting a Will, download our guide below.
Your Free Guide
Disputing a Will: 5 steps to maximise your claim
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.
Contesting a Will: The Process
The first step to assessing if you can contest a Will is to understand what requirements are for a Will to be considered valid.
In England and Wales, a valid will must be:
- Clearly set out in writing and signed by the person making the Will.
- Made by someone of ‘sound mind, memory and understanding’. The person making the Will must have full mental capacity and fully understand what they are signing.
- Made with intention to create a valid Will.
- Witnessed properly by two witnesses who are not related to the signer or benefiting from the Will.
Using an expert Wills solicitor can ensure that your Will is watertight and less likely to be contested.
Grounds to Contest a Will
When we first talk to you, we will discuss why you think the Will should be challenged. In order to dispute a Will, one of the following grounds must be met:
- Lack of testamentary capacity: the person signing the Will did not know or understand what they were signing.
- Undue influence or duress: the person signing the Will was persuaded or pressured to sign it.
- Fraudulent or forgery: the signature was faked or changes were made without the Will maker’s knowledge or approval.
- Executed incorrectly: the Will was not signed and witnessed properly.
- Unclear or ambiguous: the Will is written unclearly or does not fully set out the person’s wishes.
- Provision for inheritance: someone is able to make a claim under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975
Some people may be able to challenge a Will if they think that it does not make sufficient provision for them.
The Inheritance Act sets out who can make a claim for provision to be made for them in a Will. If you were part of the family or were being looked after by the deceased, then you may be entitled to contest a Will.
To make a claim under this Act, you must fit into one of the following categories:
- A spouse of the person who has passed away.
- A former spouse of the person who has passed away, ONLY if you have not remarried.
- A partner who lived with the deceased for at least 2 years immediately before the death.
- A child of the person who has passed away.
- A person who was treated as a child of the family by the person who passed away.
- Someone who was supported financially (partly or totally) by the person who has died.
This is a highly complex and litigious area and requires an expert in contested probate to advise you. Speak to our legal team to find out if you are eligible to make a claim against an estate under the Inheritance Act.
Is There a Time Limit To Contest a Will?
Yes, there are strict time limits to contest a Will. Most claims must be made within six months of the Grant of Probate being issued. If you’re not sure when the Grant was issued or are worried the time limit has passed, it is still worth getting in touch with our team to see if they can take action.
Is it Worth Contesting a Will?
We will not encourage you to seek a claim unless we believe that you have a solid case. Our first step will be to assess your claim and the grounds on which you are challenging the Will. We are highly experienced in assessing claims and identifying if they will be successful or not. Every individual case that we deal with is different, so the best way to know if you have a good chance is to speak to us about your concerns.
Can Grandchildren Contest a Will?
Grandchildren are not named under the Inheritance Act, but you may be able to contest a Will if you were promised something by your grandparent or were financially dependent upon your grandparent. Claiming on the grounds of being a grandchild alone is unlikely to be successful, but if you meet other grounds, for example, if you believe your grandparent lacked capacity or was coerced into signing the Will, then you may be able to bring a claim. If you are a grandchild who is concerned about the Will of your grandparent, get in contact with our experienced team in confidence.
What is the Evidence Needed to Contest a Will?
Your legal team will need to demonstrate that the grounds for contesting a Will have been met. For example, if you maintain that the person signing the Will didn’t have mental capacity, we can use experts to look into the medial history of the person who died to see if there is evidence that the person who made the Will lacked capacity. If you were financially dependent on the person who made the Will, we might gather evidence to demonstrate this under the Inheritance Act.
Every case is unique and the evidence you will need will depend upon the grounds under which you are making your claim. If you instruct our team, we will guide you through the process and help you gather the evidence required.
Contesting a Will with Burt Brill & Cardens
Our expert contested Wills team is headed up by Alex Williams, Head of Litigation and member of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association. Alex is described by our clients as ‘a superb negotiator with great professional flair, exemplary advice and communication, sensitivity, and overall value for money’. His team are described as ‘excellent: very organised, extremely efficient and reliable.’
If you have concerns about a Will or probate, your next step is to book a diagnostic meeting with Alex or a member of his team. Your diagnostic meeting can take place in person, by telephone, or video meeting. At the meeting you will be able to speak to us about what has happened and why you are concerned. We will assess your case and let you know if we think you have grounds to contest the Will. To book your diagnostic meeting, call us on 01273 604 123, email us at email@example.com, or fill out our enquiry form.
Read More: Grounds for Disputing a Will