If you want to contest a Will, it's vital that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. Tees can guide you through the process of making a claim.
As solicitors, we wish everyone would make a Will. Unfortunately, even when they do, the Will doesn’t always make it clear what the deceased person wanted or intended. People can have widely differing views of what the deceased person meant. Or, you may have concerns over the validity of the Will.
In these circumstances, you may wish to contest the Will. Our specialist contentious probate solicitors can guide you through the legal process - and help you secure a favourable outcome.
There are various reasons why you might challenge someone’s Will. These include:
If you believe that the person didn’t have the mental capacity to make their Will or change it.
You can also challenge someone’s Will if you think they haven’t made reasonable provision for their dependants - for example, a co-habitee, spouse or civil partner, their minor children or adult children in constrained financial circumstances.
You can challenge a Will if you think it’s a forgery or if you think it may not have been executed in the actual presence of the witnesses named in the Will.
If you believe that the deceased person was coerced by someone else to make their Will in a certain way.
It can come as a bit of a shock if you realise that the deceased person’s Will isn’t what you were expecting, perhaps due to a previous promise made to you by the deceased. You’ll want to talk to someone who has the knowledge and experience to help you decide what to do for the best. Our inheritance and estate dispute lawyers are experts at dealing with challenges to Wills.
We have the legal expertise and practical knowledge to help sort out disagreements over a Will. Give us a call for a free and confidential conversation and let’s talk about how we can help.
For a free initial chat, at no obligation, or fill out our enquiry form and a solicitor will get in touch.
Common reasons to challenge or contest a will include:
A Will can only be contested on specific legal grounds. If the party who intends to contest the Will is unable to reach a resolution with the executors and beneficiaries of the Will, then an application will need to be made to court, setting out the basis of the challenge to the Will.
Anyone with a claim against an estate that relates to the content, drafting or execution of the Will can potentially challenge a Will. The most common claimants are spouses, children, family members or dependants of the deceased and beneficiaries of the Will, or creditors. Claims can also be made against an estate if a claimant was promised to be remembered in the Will by the deceased, which they relied on, but did not receive. Close family members, dependants and cohabitees can also make an claim against an estate on the basis that the Will failed to make reasonable provision for them.
Usually, it is important to take advice quickly following a death, for a number of reasons, if you think you may have a claim. A claim for reasonable provision must be issued within 6 months of the grant of probate (which can be extended in certain circumstances). Therefore, it is necessary to contact the executors of the estate as soon as possible, to try and reach an agreement, without having to issue court proceedings. The same time limit does not apply if you are challenging the Will, but it is sensible to proceed as soon as possible, as so as to avoid unnecessary evidential difficulties and to avoid adverse tax or cost implications for the estate.
It is sensible to engage the services of a specialist solicitor. They will contact the executors of the Will on your behalf to notify them of your potential claim. Depending on the type of claim you have, your solicitor may recommend that a caveat is entered to prevent a grant of probate being obtained in respect of the Will. If resolution of your claim cannot be agreed between you and the executors and beneficiaries of the Will, an application to the court may be necessary.
Each party is responsible for their own legal costs. An agreement may be reached whereby your legal costs are paid by the estate. If your claim is determined by the court and you succeed, you can ask the court to determine which party should pay your costs.
The overall cost of dispute will depend on the issues involved, the number of witnesses and documentary evidence involved, whether expert evidence is needed and the point at which a case is concluded.
Undue influence is where pressure, coercion or undue influence is exerted on the testator (the person making the will) so as to procure a Will in particular terms, that is not the expression or result of their own free will.
The basis on which a Will might be contested will depend on the particular circumstances. Evidence might be gathered from witnesses, documents and/or experts. A specialist solicitor will be able to represent you and advise as to how best to proceed.
A claim could be issued by a litigation friend for a minor or by an attorney. Otherwise, the court would expect the claim to be issued by the person with the claim.
In the first instance there is an obligation on the parties to a dispute to attempt resolution without litigation via Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). If this is not possible court proceedings will be necessary.
If you are an interested party (executor or beneficiary) you will probably receive a letter about the dispute and be invited to take part in ADR and/or subsequent court proceedings.
Yes. A Will can be challenged on the ground that at the date instructions were given and/or the Will executed the testator lacked capacity. Medical records, witness evidence and expert psychiatric evidence is likely to be needed to prove the claim.
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