Are you unhappy with the provisions contained in the Will of a deceased relative or loved one? Do you want to challenge the Will? If you have questions about contesting a Will, the estate disputes team at Solomons Solicitors can help answer your queries and provide you with the specialist legal advice you need.
Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
The grounds to challenge a Will
You may want to challenge a Will because you do not think the provisions are fair (an Inheritance Act claim) or because you do not believe the Will is valid.
There are several grounds to challenge the validity of a Will, including:
- Lack of testamentary capacity – the Will maker did not have the mental capacity to sign their Will because they either did not understand they were signing a Will or did not understand the provisions in the Will. A common concern is when an elderly relative changes their Will after the onset of dementia and there is a worry that they were not of sound mind or did not understand the effect of what they were doing
- The Will was not executed validly – there are a variety of reasons why a Will may not be executed properly, such as the Will maker not signing the Will or their signature only being witnessed by one witness rather than the required two
- Lack of knowledge – a Will maker may have the mental capacity to sign a new Will but the Will could be declared invalid if the Will writer did not know the contents of the Will
- Undue influence – a Will maker may have the capacity and understand the terms of the Will but have been unduly influenced to make or change their Will. For example, if a vulnerable person leaves a large legacy to a person that they have only recently met. To challenge a Will on this basis you need more than suspicion; there must be evidence of manipulation
- Forgery – where a Will is not genuine because a signature has been forged
- Fraud – where a Will has been made or the contents of a Will changed through fraud. For example, a person tells a Will maker that a proposed beneficiary has passed away so they leave the estate to them
Who can contest a Will
Anyone can contest a Will if they think a Will is invalid. If you think the terms of a Will are valid but unfair you have to be within the class of people named in the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to be able to challenge the Will.
The Will cannot be challenged on either the basis of invalidity or unfairness until the Will writer has passed away. That is because the person could always make a new Will.
Contesting a Will
The first step in contesting a Will is to get hold of a copy of the Will. You will need to ask the executors of the Will to provide you with a copy. They are entitled to say no. If they refuse to let you see the Will you can apply online for a copy of the Will once probate has been granted.
The process for contesting a Will depends on the basis of your claim but estate disputes solicitors recommend that you take early legal advice on:
- Whether you have a potential Will challenge claim
- The time limits within which you can bring a claim
- The costs of the proceedings so you can look at the cost-benefit ratio. This may depend on the size of the estate or the size of the legacy you want to challenge
- The alternatives to court proceedings to challenge the Will, such as the use of specialist mediators to help you reach a resolution
Speak to our Bournemouth-based Estate Disputes Solicitors today
Solomons Solicitors can help you if you are considering disputing a Will by providing clear and specialist legal advice so you understand your options.