If you have found out about a will having been made in circumstances where you question the validity of the same, an initial question you may ask is, can I contest the will?
Not everyone is actually able to challenge the validity of a will. To be able to do so, you have to have something called “standing”.
What is “standing”?
In basic terms, “standing” means that you would benefit if the will in question is successfully challenged.
Should you successfully challenge the validity of a will, then it would be set aside (i.e. disregarded) and the estate would then be dealt with either in accordance with a previous will if one was made, or by what is known as the “rules of intestacy”.
The rules of intestacy are default provisions which dictate who can benefit from an estate where there isn’t a valid will in place. Generally speaking, it depends on who is left behind by the person who has passed away and their relationship to them.
Accordingly, a very basic and early question that needs to be asked is what happens if the will is successfully challenged and is there any benefits to me if I am successful.
Mr Smith made a will in 2015, which left his estate worth £500,000 equally between his two children, Charlotte and David.
However, in 2018, a few months before his death, Mr Smith then made a new will, which left all of his estate to Charlotte.
In this scenario, David would have “standing” to challenge the 2018 will. That is because, if the 2018 will were set aside, then the estate would be dealt with under the 2015 will, where David stands to inherit 50% of the estate, or £250,000.
Mrs White made a will in 2012, which left gifts of £50,000 each to her two stepchildren, Paul and Veronica. The rest of her estate was left to a neighbour, Doreen. Mrs White hadn’t made an earlier will and didn’t have children of her own.
In this scenario, neither Paul nor Veronica would have “standing” to challenge the 2012 will. That is because, if the will were to be set aside, then the estate would be dealt with under the rules of intestacy. Stepchildren do not inherit under the same, unless they have been adopted.
If you wish to contest a will, you have been notified of someone wanting to contest a will that you are either dealing with or benefit from, then please contact our Contested Wills, Trusts and Estates Team on 01823 625841.
We handle a variety of disputes and issues surrounding wills and estates. Further, we are able to offer high quality, cost-effective legal advice on such matters, with flexible funding arrangements such as Conditional Fee Agreements (i.e. No-Win, No-Fee arrangements) also being available.