Contesting or defending a will can be a hugely distressing time and for most of us deeply personal, especially after losing a loved one.

 

When tackling something of this nature, it is reassuring to know you have people who know their stuff in your corner.

Our team of contentious probate solicitors have a combined experience of over 100 years in this niche area of the law. We fully understand the sensitivity around these kinds of matters and having dealt with over 3000 enquiries we have a proven record in providing our clients with a phased, clear and supportive journey from start to finish.

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Where do I start when looking to dispute a Will?

The grounds for contesting or defending a Will

There are various grounds to contest a Will and they most commonly fall under

 

1. Contesting the validity of the will

2. Bringing a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975

Contesting the validity of a Will

A claim for undue influence suggests that the deceased made certain choices in the division of their estate due to the influence of a third party rather than being due to their own genuine wishes. Influence that is “undue” means that there must have been coercion applied to the deceasedIn order to succeed, it must be shown that but for the undue influence of the third party, there is no other reasonable explanation as to why the terms of the will are as indicated 

Claims for lack of capacity, or testamentary capacity, as this is commonly referred to, is judged at the time of the signing of the will. At the time of signing his Will, the deceased must have fully understood  the nature and consequences of the decisions made. This is an evidence-based claim. A consideration of all available evidence will be required in order to assess whether testamentary capacity can be disputed. 

This requires a careful consideration of whether the deceased knew and approved the terms of their will prior to signing. A consideration of all available evidence will be required in order to assess whether the circumstances surrounding the preparation of the will to show that the deceased knew and approved of the content.   

A claim for lack of formal validity refers to the circumstances surrounding the signing of the deceased’s Will and whether this was completed in compliance with the formalities of Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837.  This is a particularly common claim where the deceased has made a home made will and it not aware of the requirements and formalities of executing a will correctly.  

 

Fraudulent Calumny is an extension of undue influence and requires us to show that the Deceased made certain decisions as a result of dishonest statements made about a person, which led to provision being made for a specific individual in preference to other(s). 

It may be argued that the signature of the person who made the Will and/or one or both of the witnesses of the will is not genuine.  If that is proven to be the case, it cannot be a valid Will. 

Bringing a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975

As a disappointed beneficiary a claim may potentially be pursued under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. 

In order to make a claim of this under the Act your relationship with the deceased must fall into one of the following categories;  

 

  1. A (current) spouse or civil partner of the deceased; 
  2. Former spouse or civil partner of the deceased (circumstance dependent); 
  3. A child of the deceased; 
  4. Treated by the Deceased as a child of the family; 
  5. Maintained by the deceased immediately before their death; or 
  6. A cohabitee of the deceased.

 

Find out more about bringing a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975. 

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