Can a Will be contested?A Will can be contested in several ways: it is possible that it does not comply with the formalities for creating a will (perhaps is it not signed or witnessed correctly). It could be forged. Alternatively an otherwise valid will could be challenged on the grounds of undue influence, lack of knowledge and approval, or lack of testamentary capacity. Finally it may be that the division of the deceased’s assets can be altered by a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 or by a constructive trust or proprietary estoppel claim.
Who can contest a will?Anyone who has a beneficial interest, or potential beneficial interest in the deceased's estate, can contest the will, if there are grounds for them to do so. If a will is found to be invalid, the estate will be distributed in accordance with an earlier valid will and if there is no earlier will, the estate will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules. Before bringing a claim, it is therefore very important to consider the potential effect on the entitlement to the estate should a challenge succeed.
What should I do if I want to dispute a will?If you wish to challenge a will or think you may have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Timing can be critical in probate disputes and legal advice should be sought without delay. For example, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 must be made within six months of the date of the grant of administration. Urgent action may also be required to prevent a grant of probate from being obtained or to protect estate funds and assets while your claim is being investigated.
Contentious probate is a niche area and we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice from a specialist. You can contact us via email.
What are the reasons to contest a will?A person might want to contest a will if it is not clear what the will means, or it may be ambiguous. This may mean that the parties have to ask the court to interpret or correct the will. The most common reason a person will contest a will is where that person finds they have been given less than they expected.
Who can challenge a will?Anyone who had an expectation or entitlement to a person’s estate, who is disappointed with the effect of a will can challenge a will. Usually that means a challenge to a will is by a family member or a person or organisation with whom the deceased had an interest or relationship.
Are there time limits for contesting a will?Yes - the time limits depend on the type of claim. For example, a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, must be brought within 6 months of the date of grant of representation.
Timing can be critical in probate disputes and legal advice should be sought without delay. Contentious probate is a niche area and we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice from a specialist, you can email us here.
How much does it cost to challenge a will?It is difficult to say how much the total cost of a will dispute will be as it will depend upon what work needs to be undertaken and how the other parties deal with the claim.
The overall cost of court proceedings can however vary from a few thousand pounds to many tens of thousands of pounds. Depending on the circumstances of the case, we generally always try and settle our cases outside of court to keep costs to a minimum for our clients. This also means our clients have as much control as they can over any settlement reached.
We appreciate that the cost of obtaining legal advice or pursuing or defending a claim is often of most concern to clients. Depending on the circumstances of your case, we may be able to offer you various funding options, such as "no win, no fee" or a deferred payment arrangement.
I think my loved one was pressured into making a will. Is the will valid?A person must be free to make their will voluntarily. If it is found that they were forced into signing a will or undue pressure was put on them, the will is invalid.
I have not received an inheritance that I was promised. Is there anything I can do?
Disputes often arise after a person's death if a will does not reflect a promise made by the deceased before his or her death (such as a promise to transfer land or property). It may be possible to enforce a promise that is not subsequently fulfilled in a will but only if the claimant has relied on that promise and acted on it to his or her detriment. This is known as a proprietary estoppel claim.
How do I obtain a copy of a will?While a person is still alive, their will is strictly confidential and only they can give a copy to you. Once that person dies, their personal representatives stand in their shoes. It is then for the personal representatives to decide whether to provide a copy to you.
Once a grant of probate has been issued the will becomes a public document and anyone can obtain a copy from the Probate Registry.
If you would like advice on contesting a Will, or indeed on any other inheritance or trust dispute, please contact our Disputed Wills and Trusts Team on freephone 0800 0931336, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org for a no obligation chat to see how we can help you.