When would you contest a will?
Wills can be contested for many reasons. Sometimes wills are contested because family members think that a Will, often a parent’s will is invalid or does not properly reflect their parent’s wishes.
Who can contest a will?
This is usually a family member or someone who believes that they should have benefited from the will. This includes husbands, wives, partners, children and even people who were treated as though they were part of the family by the person whose will it is.
Grounds for contesting a will
Under probate law, there are many grounds to challenge a Will. Some common grounds include:
- A claim that the Will was not properly executed
- A claim that the person whose Will it is did not have mental capacity to make the Will
- A claim that the person whose will it is was influenced into making a will and that the will did not reflect the individual’s true wishes
- A claim that a will is fraudulent or forged
- A claim that there were drafting errors in the will
- A claim that an asset (such as property) within the will is the rightful property of someone other than the deceased, or is part-owned by someone else
- A claim that the person whose will it is did not understand and approve the will
- A claim that the will has been revoked before the person who made the will died
What is the process of contesting a will?
At our first meeting we ask our client to explain the history of the case to us and tell us your concerns are. We would ask you about the evidence that you have that supports your concerns and we would advise you of the legal principles that apply to your case. It may be necessary for us to investigate the case for you before we can properly advise you. If our advice is that we believe you have a justified complaint then we can prepare a letter before action to send to your opponent or, your opponent’s solicitors if solicitors are instructed. In the letter before action that we prepare we would set out your concerns and the legal basis of the claim that you have. We would always offer your opponent the option of trying to resolve the matter by alternative dispute resolution. One type of alternative dispute resolution that we find is effective is mediation.
The possible responses to a letter before action are either that your opponent accepts your case and the matter concludes at that stage. Alternatively the case may progress to resolution through alternative dispute resolution. If all else fails there may be Court proceedings. It is important to understand that while it may be necessary to start Court proceedings the vast majority of cases result in an agreement before there is a trial.
Is there a time limit for contesting a will?
Time is of the essence if you want to contest a will. It is possible to prevent a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Administration being issued by registering a Caveat at the Probate Registry. This is something that we would do for you if we advised you that it was an appropriate step to take.
Where the validity of a will is not in dispute but the dispute concerns the provision made in a will or if there is no will on an intestacy may we advise our client to make an application for financial provision using to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. These claims will be claims made by husbands or wife, or partner, or children or other persons who are being supported by the deceased at the time of their death. In these cases the time limit for making an application is 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate or Grant of Administration. This time limit can be extended in exceptional circumstances.
Legal advice about contesting a will
If you have concerns regarding a will or if you have been left out of a will when you believe that you should have been included then, we can help you to see if we believe you do have a case. If so, our specialist probate dispute resolution solicitors will help you resolve the matter. We have solicitors who are members of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (“ACTAPS”). ACTAPS members are specialist solicitors and barristers who are experienced in trust and probate disputes.
Contact a dispute resolution solicitor
To speak to a specialist probate dispute resolution solicitor today, contact us at any of our offices using the telephone numbers below:
Alternatively, email Tim Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch. Tim Bennett is both a member of ACTAPS and an Accredited Mediator.