Contesting a Will in the UK?
If a deceased person’s will does not adequately provide for you or you think the Will was not properly made you need advice about a bringing a claim contesting the Will.
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How to contest a Will
The first way you may be able to challenge the will is if you believe the Will did not adequately provide for you. This includes if you are a beneficiary under the Will, if the deceased owed you money or if the deceased promised to leave you something in the Will.
Family members or people treated as part of the family by the deceased, have a right under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to bring a claim if they think that the will does not give them as much as it should have done.
If you do not qualify as someone able to bring a claim based in inadequate provision you may be able to contest the Will on the ground that it did not properly reflect the wishes of the deceased.
Grounds to dispute a Will
If you are contesting a Will, it is likely that you do not believe that the Will properly reflected the wishes of the person signing it. Some of the reasons for contesting a Will are that you feel the deceased:
- Did not know they were signing a Will
- Did not understand the Will
- Was persuaded or pressured to sign it
- Did not have proper mental capacity
There are strict rules about how a Will should be signed. You can contest the Will if the will was not signed and witnessed properly.
If you think that the will was not prepared properly by a professional will writer, or the executors are not dealing with the estate properly, then you may also have a claim against the will writer or the executors.
Don’t forget there is a strict time limit for bringing your claim.
Can I contest a Will after Probate?
There is a strict time limit for contesting a Will. You must bring a claim within six months from the date of the grant of probate. Sometimes the court allows claims after this this period, but it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible in order to find out where you stand.
7 Steps to Contest a Will: Our Process
It is essential to bring a detailed claim. Our 7 steps to contest a Will are:
Step 1 – Initial meeting with you
Our first step will be to hold an initial consultation with you. We will discuss your concerns around the situation and whether you believe the person who made the Will (the testator) lacked knowledge, mental capacity, and approval of what the Will contained, and if you feel they were under undue influence to make the Will. You may have started to feel concerned following or prior to the death. It may be that someone is benefiting from the Will, or has been made an executor to the Will, which you find surprising. Relations may have become difficult and stressed between various parties after the death which has led to the seeking of legal advice.
Step 2 – Time limits and prevention steps
Once we have taken your instructions, we will investigate whether a Grant of Probate has been obtained. If we discover that no grant has been made by the Probate Registry, we will consider entering a Caveat. A Caveat prevents the issue of a grant of probate. Generally, where a Grant has not been obtained and there is a dispute over the validity of a will, a Caveat should be entered.
There are strict time limits so do not delay in consulting us.
Step 3 – Is there a property?
If property is owned by the deceased, we will usually obtain office copy entries from the Land Registry. This is to review who owned the property and to establish whether any kind of restriction against disposition is needed. When a Grant has been obtained by another party, it is often difficult to attain a restriction.
Step 4 – How was the Will made?
We need to know how the will was made. Often we request a A Larke-V-Nugus statement from the solicitor who originally drafted the Will or witnessed its execution. We will ask the Will maker for a copy for the Will file. The Will maker is also asked for a statement outlining the dealings with the person who made the Will during the Will drafting process.
Step 5 – Medical records of the deceased
The health of the deceased when making the Will is relevant. We may request the Medical records of the deceased. This is important if the claim involves undue influence or a lack of capacity.
Step 6 – Discussing your claim with you
When we have the information we will discuss our findings with you. At the same time we will tell you if you have a good chance of success.
Step 7 – Letter of Claim
The next step is to prepare formal Letter of Claim. This letter sets out why you are challenging the Will and the remedy or outcome that you want. When you agree it, we send it to the opposing party and/or the deceased’s Executors. Usually we include an invitation to try and settle the claim at mediation or other sort of Alternative Dispute Resolution. This can often help to keep costs down and reach an early settlement.
The success of your claim in contested Will cases depends upon the quality of the evidence presented to the Court. It is essential to seek advice from a solicitor you trust. The solicitor must be clear about your chance of success of your a claim to contest a will. We many years experience in bringing successful contested will claims.
How long does it take to contest a Will?
It is difficult to judge how long it will take to make a claim to contest a Will. We will work with you to set out your claim clearly and the reasons for it. Our experience means it is often possible to negotiate a settlement quickly and without expensive court proceedings. If the parties cannot agree a resolution or mediation fails then court proceedings are necessary. In that case it may take one or more years before a claim is finally agreed.
The important issue is to make sure that the solicitor advising you has experience in bringing such claims. The initial letter of claim sets out clearly and in detail the relevant information and states your claim. Often a claim settles quicker if the issues are properly researched. The letter must set out the issues clearly and the reasons for contesting a Will.
Do I have to go to Court?
We will try to settle your claim through mediation first. Mediation is a form of negotiation allowing two parties to come to an agreement without going to courts. It is usually quicker, cheaper and confidential. If meditation does not work we can issue formal court proceedings to contest a Will. We will work with you to pursue your claim in the most cost effective way.
Your initial consultation
If you wish to contest a Will, your next step is to book an initial consultation. The consultation will be with one of our expert solicitors. At that consultation we will discuss with you the circumstances involved and your chances of success in your claim. To book your initial consultation now, call us on 01273 604 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contesting a Will: your free guide
Contentious Probate is becoming an increasing issue in the UK. Dealing with issues around who is entitled to what in a Will requires a sensitive approach which looks at a wide range of factors, from family disputes to difficulties regarding mental capacity and undue influence.
Our Contesting a Will Guide covers our 5 key tips to solving issues around contentious probate, and is completely free of charge for you to download.