Contesting a Will / Contested Probate
Grief can manifest itself in many ways, and we understand that going through this process after a family member or friend has died is never easy. The situation can be made much worse if you feel you weren’t left what you felt you deserved in the will.
You may have had doubts about the mental state of the person signing the will, or feel they were pressured into signing it by someone else. This can result in you wanting to contest a will (this process is sometimes referred to as contested or contentious probate). Alternatively, you may find yourself wanting to defend a contested will against someone making a claim.
Whatever the situation or your concerns, Burt Brill & Cardens can help you when it comes to contesting a will. If you want swift advice and action call our expert team today on 01273 604123.
If you want to read more on contesting a will then scroll down or click on the below links to jump to the relevant section:
Grounds for Contesting a Will
We understand that every situation is different, and that will disputes can happen for many reasons. It is therefore important to know on what grounds it is possible to contest a will.
Some of the main reasons for contesting a will are as follows:
- the person signing the will did not know or understand what they were signing
- the person signing the will was persuaded or pressured to sign it
- the person signing the will did not have proper mental capacity
- the will was not signed and witnessed properly
- the person making the will promised you something but it was not in the will
It is important to highlight that only a person having some interest in the will is able to contest it.
Other grounds for Contesting a Will
If you have suffered loss because a will was not written properly or you believe the estate of a deceased person has not been administered properly then you may have a claim. We can advise on all probate work and validity disputes. Burt Brill & Cardens are experts at writing wills, and experts at deciphering them.
Who Can Contest a Will
- A beneficiary under the Will.
- Someone who is owed money by the deceased.
- Someone who was promised something by the deceased.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 also sets out who can make a claim for provision to be made for them. For example, if you were part of the family or were being looked after by the deceased, then you may be entitled to contest a will.
To make a claim under this Act, you must fit into one of the following categories:
- A spouse of the person who has passed away.
- A former spouse of the person who has passed away, ONLY if you have not remarried.
- A partner who lived with the deceased for at least 2 years immediately before the death.
- A child of the person who has passed away.
- A person who was treated as a child of the family by the person who passed away.
- Someone who was supported financially (partly or totally) by the person who has died.
How to Contest a Will
Most will disputes are settled through mediation and do not go to court. Mediation is a voluntary form of negotiation, which allows two parties to come to an agreement on how to solve the dispute settlement themselves without involving the courts. Mediation can go some way to minimising the impact on relationships between family members, which may have been damaged during the disagreement.
However, there are times when meditation does not work and formal court proceedings are issued in order to contest a will. Contesting a will has both emotional and economic implications so it’s important to find an expert solicitor who is sensitive to your needs. At Burt Brill & Cardens we are experienced in dealing with a whole range of contested will cases and resolving them through mediation or in court.
Is There a Time Limit when Contesting a Will?
There is a strict time limit for contesting a will, with most claims needing to be made within six months from the grant of probate being issued. In some instances, the court can allow claims beyond this period, but it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible in order to find out where you stand.
What Happens When a Will is Contested
The first step is for your solicitor to take instructions from you outlining the reasons why you wish to contest the will. They will then find out if a Grant of Probate has been obtained. If not, they enter into a Caveat to prevent one being taken out. They will then get all of the other pertinent documents including those from the Land Registry, a Larke-V-Nugus statement as well as medical records of the deceased if necessary.
After completing the above, the solicitor will have an idea of how likely you are to succeed In Contesting a Will. If they believe you have a claim then a formal Letter of Claim is written to the opposing party and/or the deceased’s Executors. This usually leads to an invitation of mediation. If mediation fails then formal court proceeding may commence, with the burden of proof on the claimant.
Read about the seven steps to contesting a will for more information.
How to Defend a Contested Will
If a family member is contesting a will, this can cause further stress for you at a time when you’re grieving. Burt, Brill & Cardens are experts at defending claims such as these, reducing the stress and getting the results you want, both in and out of the court room. We realise this is a highly delicate and personal situation and you can trust us for full confidentiality and support throughout the process of defending a contested will.
Contact us Today
Contact us today to speak to find out more about contesting a will. Our probate solicitors are available for personal and dedicated advice. They will be able to answer questions about the potential costs of contesting a will as well as advising on how long it may take to contest a will.
Based in Brighton, East Grinstead, Worthing and London, Burt, Brill & Cardens act for clients across Sussex, Kent and the wider South East.
Contested Probate Solicitors, Burt Brill & Cardens