Death within the family can cause a great deal of distress. When it comes to the will of the loved one who has passed, we all want our loved one’s assets to be distributed fairly. However, if you have concerns about how the will was produced, you may have legitimate grounds to contest the will. But how do you contest a will in the UK?
Can a Will be Contested?
You have the legal right to contest a will, though success is far from guaranteed. It’s important to remember that the process of contesting a will varies across the UK. To avoid common inheritance disputes after your death, it is important your will is valid and specifies who will receive your estate. If you are contesting or defending a claim brought against you, you should contact qualified probate specialists as soon as possible.
Who can Contest a Will?
Anyone can contest a will. However, choosing to contest a will is not to be done without good reason. You must be a financial dependent and one of the following to challenge a will for failing to make a reasonable financial provision: a child, spouse, civil partner, an ex-spouse or ex-civil partner who has yet to remarry, or a cohabiting partner.
It is important to keep in mind that if a will is found to be invalid, the estate will be distributed at the discretion of the court. This means that there is no guarantee you will receive anything at the end of the process. Often the court will decide to distribute the estate in line with the most recent valid version of the will.
What are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?
There are multiple grounds on which a will can be contested in England and Wales. Here are three of the most commonly used legal terms for contesting a will:
This is the legal term for a person’s legal and mental capacity to make or change a valid will. The will is invalid if the person making it (the testator) lacks testamentary capacity at the time it is executed. Case law is used to determine the capacity to execute a valid will.
Lack of Knowledge and Approval
This can occur when a mistake is made in the will, either because the testator is unaware of how to make a will, lacks capacity, or was not challenged during the process. For example, the will writer may have made a mistake while drafting the will that was overlooked when the will was signed and witnessed.
Undue Influence or Coercion
This is the point at which the testator could have been persuaded or coerced to change their will. Coercion is defined as the pressure that outweighs the testator’s wishes without entirely changing their mind. What are the signs that a will was drafted under duress or coercion? For instance, the will could be homemade, with no professional help sought, and could include spelling errors and/or language that the testator would not have used or understood.
How to Contest a Will
If you want to challenge a will, you should file a “caveat” with the Probate Registry, which gives you six months to evaluate whether you have legitimate grounds to challenge the will and can be extended. Keep in mind that the executors have the right to lodge a ‘warning’ with the Probate Registry. At this stage, you may wish to substantiate your caveat through what is known as an ‘appearance,’ but doing so means the matter would have to be resolved by an Order of the Court, which could result in costly legal fees.
Do You Need Help Contesting a Will?
Van Eaton Solicitors in London offers a free initial consultation to assess your case. Because our experts are skilled at resolving disputes, we can immediately advise you on the strength of your case. If our experts believe that the will dispute is appropriate, we will conduct a thorough investigation before contacting the other parties involved. We provide straightforward advice on dispute resolution. If you want to contest a will or defend a claim, please contact us at 020 8769 6739 or online. We will get back to you as soon as possible.