Trying to prove that a will is invalid can be a challenging and emotionally draining experience. You are best advised to seek legal advice in relation to a will dispute. Common subjects for disputes include allegation of forgery, claiming that the deceased lacked the mental capacity to understand his gifts, or that the deceased had been the subject of undue influence when considering or writing the will. Gathering sufficient evidence to prove your claim or defence in a will dispute, takes time, experience, and commitment which this firm has in abundance and can expertly guide you through the potential minefield that can be contentious probate.
Our probate solicitors here at Van Eaton can work professionally and empathetically to get you the results you need as efficiently as possible. If you are looking to bring a claim against an estate, read our latest article below.
Proving that a will is forged can be difficult but possible, using the expertise of a court-approved handwriting expert. A forged will may have been prepared by a beneficiary or executor either before or after the deceased’s death and will have been signed with an attempt to emulate the signature of the deceased. Wills are difficult to forge, especially when the person making the will must have witnesses present when the will is signed.
If the signature, those benefitting from the will or the contents look suspicious, such as the omission of someone who you would as a rule benefit such as a child or spouse, it might be cause for suspicion. Also, if one beneficiary benefits greatly from the will compared to the other beneficiaries, this also might arouse suspicion. Our will disputes solicitors in Streatham can provide you with a no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. You can read our previous article on invalid wills here.
Following the Correct Formalities
To complete a will, the person making it must meet specific criteria for it to be valid. They must be over 18 years of age and meet the testamentary requirements, such as being of sound mind. They must make the will of their own accord, and it must be made in writing. The person making the will should also sign the document in the presence of two witnesses, who must also leave their signature and address.
If you have any reason to believe the formalities were not met, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
How Can You Tell the Deceased Lacked Mental Capacity?
When making the will, a person should understand the nature of the document, the extent of their property and understand the consequence of not providing for certain people. The document will be submitted for probate unless someone can prove that the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a will. If the deceased has a medical history that could affect their mental capacity, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, you must seek out the medical notes immediately from the GP.
It should be noted that the decline in memory due to old age may not be enough to prove the deceased lacked mental capacity. Despite this, your doubts should not be ignored, and our will disputes solicitors in London can help you gather the relevant medical records, ready to make a claim.
Proving Undue Influence
Undue influence means that the deceased was under pressure or coerced into making the will upon terms likely to benefit the person exercising undue influence. The testator may have engaged in manipulative behaviour to benefit from the trust or estate, which can, if proven, be used as evidence against them. No matter your concerns, you should be advised to always seek expert legal advice first before attempting to prove your claim on your own.
Other claims may be brought by individuals who had a sufficiently close relationship with the deceased and who have been excluded from the will. They can make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and must prove their close relationship to the deceased or that they were financially dependent on the deceased. If you need help with a claim, our will dispute solicitors in London can help you get the results you need as efficiently and effectively as possible.
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