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Contesting a will

Could You Contest a Loved One’s Will?

A will is often thought of as someone’s last wishes – the final, undisputable say on who their possessions and assets should be distributed to.

But actually, there are circumstances where a will can be contested. Family and dependents who are not reasonably provided for in the Will can seek a share of the estate. The Will can also be challenged if it can be proved the person making the will did not have the required mental capacity to make a will in the first place or they were influence in some way when making the Will

So what happens when you want to contest a will, and under what circumstances is it acceptable to challenge? We’ve put together a quick and easy guide to show who can contest a will, on what grounds, and the process that follows a claim of this nature.

If you are not reasonably provided for in the Will

There are certain types of people who can contest a will. The spouse of the deceased, a former spouse who hasn’t yet remarried, children of the deceased, any partner who lived with the deceased for two years or more immediately prior to death, and a dependent of the deceased, not including any of the above.

I’m unhappy with a will – what can I do?

If you believe you have grounds to contest a Will on the grounds on lack of mental capacity or influence, then you can lodge a caveat with the probate registry. This will stop the personal representatives of the deceased securing a Grant, who the personal representatives will need to secure or dispose assets the more valuable assets within the estate. A caveat will last six months and then it must be renewed if you wish to keep it in place. It should not be used if you are making a claim against the estate on other grounds

What grounds are there for contesting a will?

If the will is being challenged on grounds of lack of mental capacity then it would be necessary to prove this by reference to the mental records and expert evidence.   If the will is being challenged on grounds of influence, then it must have acted on the mind of the person making the will at the time the will was made to influence the person to make the will in the terms they did.

If you are one of the category of people who can make a claim where there is no reasonable financial provision in the will?

You would need to bring a claim against under the Inheritance (provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.   This must be done within 6 months of the date of the Grant issued to the personal representatives.   You would then need to show that you were not reasonably provided for in the will. If you are not included in the will at all or you have only been left a small sum compared with other beneficiaries they you would be able to make a claim. You would then need to show some financial need which the will would have assisted to overcome.   Normally, a lump sum of money is paid in settlement of a claim but it could also be transfer of property.

The final word from Hopkins

Contesting a will is a very stressful experience for everyone involved. If you think you have the legal right to challenge a will, or if you need further advice on your own specific information, get in touch with Pat Wright who specialises in this field.

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