How do you contest a will ?
There are various ways to contest a will. The most common grounds are as follows :-
- when the will is not valid
- the will arose following undue influence
- a claim from a dependent, or some other potential beneficiary, who was inadequately provided for.
- when the person making the will did not have the capacity
- when someone was given a clear promise as an inheritance
Checking the will is valid
A will is only valid if it complies with the Wills Act.This means that the will MUST be signed, dated, and witnessed.
It must be signed or the testators signature must be acknowledged, by the person making it in the presence of two witnesses who are in each other presence and in the presence of the testator, and the two witnesses must also sign the will together at the same time.
The witness should not also be a beneficiary or they will lose their own inheritance. The other bequests remain valid in this situation however the failed bequest may be claimed by the Crown if it is not validly distributed in the will to other beneficiaries.
Despite the surprising nature of the wills act, we regularly help in cases when, the wills act may not have been complied with for example :-
- The will may not have been signed correctly
- The signature of the deceased is very poor ( infirm )
- There are issues relating to the whether the witnesses actually witnessed the signing of the will
- The original of the will may have been lo t
If you require advice on the validity of a will call our legal helpline on 0844 740 1637
Personal making the will : capacity issues/execution of the will
The person executing the document must not be mentally incapacitated, either permanently or temporarily, at the time and must be of sound mind and fully aware of the meaning of the document. Provided that the person is of sound mind at the time of execution, subsequent mental illness or senility will not affect the validity of the will.
Loss of original will
A lost will is fertile ground for lawyers contesting a will in probate.
It is often the case that a will is allegedly ‘lost’ when in fact it has been physically destroyed by the testator with the intention of revoking it whereas copies may remain which become the basis for legal action by a miffed potential beneficiary. If a will is truly ‘lost’ or is accidentally destroyed then it is still valid however it is incumbent on the person taking the legal action to prove in a court of law that the missing will does not represent a clear intention by the testator to deliberately revoke it by destruction. An attempt to prove the validity of a missing will is often challenged by the beneficiaries of an earlier will who have been missed out of a later will which would predominate if the later will is deemed to have been deliberately revoked by destruction. Even where there is no earlier will it may be that the intestacy rules which determine who should receive a deceased assets and property when there is no will may favour others who were left out of the disputed will thereby encouraging them to contest the document.
No win no fee : contesting a will
We are one of the few firms in the Country to genuinely specialise in contested probate. In doing so, we have a variety of funding options available to clients. For example, we can act on a no win no fee basis, or alternatively on a deferred fee basis which means that our costs will be paid from the estate assets. Every case is always judged on its merits and we recognise the often difficult financial hardships that can arise in these types of cases.