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    Contesting a will

    If you believe someone has left a Will that does not accurately reflect their wishes or have concerns about the way the document was created, it is important to understand the circumstances and your options on how to proceed. Our specialist team can help you understand the terms of the Will and take any action necessary.

    You may decide you want to challenge a will because:

    • you have been omitted;
    • you have not been left as much as you need or expected;
    • the Will does not accurately reflect the person's wishes;
    • you believe the person was pressured into making the Will; 
    • you do not believe the person was well enough to make the Will

    Due to the legal requirements to create a valid Will, there are many ways a Will can be found to be invalid.

    If you are a named person due to benefit from the Will/Estate, it is important that you understand the inheritance you are due to receive and confirm that the Will was created correctly. Alternatively, if you are someone who has been omitted or doesn’t stand to inherit as much as anticipated, you may want to explore whether the Will was validly made.

    In the alternative, as an Executor appointed under a Will, it is important to check that the Will is valid. Also, where there is a dispute as to whether a Will is valid, you may find yourself in an awkward situation where Beneficiaries and Claimants are involved in a Will dispute relating to an Estate for which you are acting as an Executor.

    What are the grounds for contesting a Will?

    The usual grounds for challenging the validity of a Will are:

    • A lack of testamentary capacity (i.e. sufficient mental capacity);
    • A lack of the necessary knowledge and approval of its terms;
    • Undue influence;
    • Fraud or forgery;
    • A failure to be properly and validly executed

    Is there a time limit?

    Depending on the individual circumstances of each case, there may be certain time limits for challenging a Will. You should, therefore, seek legal advice as soon as possible.

    Contesting a Will vs Inheritance Act claim

    Contesting a Will is not the same as pursuing a Claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

    Where the validity of a Will is disputed, then the objective is for that Will to be set aside completely and for the estate to then be administered either on the basis of an earlier Will (if one was made) or the Rules of Intestacy (default provisions that apply where there is no valid Will).

    Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, the validity of the Will is not being challenged. Instead, certain relatives and dependants can pursue a Claim against the Estate if they believe that they have either not been provided for or not provided for adequately.

    How we can help you

    Our contentious trusts and probate lawyers can give you expert legal advice on:

    • Establishing whether the Will is invalid;
    • Establishing whether the Will accurately reflects a person’s wishes;
    • Understanding the contents of a Will;
    • Confirming whether there are grounds upon which to contest the validity of a Will

    Our experience

    • Successfully settling a Claim brought by a Daughter against her late Mother’s farming Estate, on the basis that she had been excluded from benefitting;
    • Acting on behalf of Beneficiaries who were facing a Claim that a Will had been revoked (i.e. cancelled) due to being destroyed by the Testator and successfully settling the same; and
    • Advising Executors in relation to an Estate where a validity challenge was brought on the basis of a lack of Testamentary Capacity and that there was a previous Mutual Will made. 

    Chris Green - C - LR - 20th Feb 2022 - 012

    For legal advice on contesting a will

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