When it comes to a property-owning family member unfortunately passing away, legal disputes and disagreements between friends and close relative commonly occur. Even if there is a Will, this doesn’t mean that disputes are immediately settled; in fact, it could bring allegations forward and the threat of contesting the Will.
There are a number of grounds for contesting a Will which we will go into more detail here.
Grounds for Contesting a Will
The most common reasons for contesting a Will include:
The Will is Invalid
A Will is a legal document so there are conditions that have to be complied with when it has been drawn up. It has to be in writing, signed and dated by the person making the Will, or they must be present when they direct someone else to sign it for them.
The signing of the Will must be witnessed by two people who meet the specific criteria and are present at the same time. These witnesses must sign the Will or acknowledge the signature in the presence of the Will-maker.
If a Will was not drawn up correctly, it will be deemed invalid and a previous Will may take effect, or the rules of intestacy may apply.
Lack of Capacity, Knowledge and Approval
The person making the Will must be of ‘sound’ mind and have the mental capacity to do so. They need to fully understand what they are undertaking, the nature and value of their estate, and the consequences of how they divide it up.
As one of the most common reasons for contesting a Will, it is a good idea to obtain medical records and / or a report to determine someone’s mental capability – if they were not, the Will may be invalid.
Also, the person making the Will must have full knowledge and approval of it. If needs be, it might be necessary to obtain witness evidence or further information from a solicitor if they prepared the Will.
If an individual was financially dependent on the deceased and believes that the Will doesn’t make ‘adequate provision’ for them, they could potentially make a claim and contest it. Eligible categories of claimants are detailed under the Inheritance Act 1975 and they can contest within 6 months of the Grant of Probate being issued.
If there is evidence of the person making the Will being put under any pressure, this can be grounds for contesting. Although it is harder to challenge, it is a valuable reason and could also amount to the criminal offence of fraud.
If there are any doubts considering the legitimacy of the Will or the signatures, this is grounds for contesting a Will. Whether the entire Will was forged or destroyed, or a signature was created fraudulently or altered in any way, these are all potential claims for fraud.
Do You Need to Contest a Will?
Have you been left out of a lost loved one’s Will? Do you want to dispute this? We have specialist services dealing with Contested Probate, so we are here to help during this difficult time, always aiming to make the process as stress-free as possible for you. If you feel like you need further advice or assistance from an expert, please contact us today.