I want to challenge a Will – what should I do?
As you may already be aware, there are several grounds on which you can challenge a Will or make a claim against an estate. These include:
Testamentary capacity – with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia being more widely diagnosed, claims made on the grounds that the deceased did not have the necessary mental capacity at the time they made their Will have risen.
Undue influence – if you believe that someone unduly influenced or put the deceased under pressure when they made their Will, then you may be able to bring a claim if you can produce evidence.
Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 – if you make a claim under this Act, you will need to be able to show that you could have reasonably expected to have received an inheritance to cover your living costs.
Claimants in this category include spouses or civil partners, former spouses or civil partners who have not remarried or entered into another civil partnership, children and adult children, and those who lived with the deceased for at least two years prior to the death, or anyone who was financially supported by them. If you were financially independent when the testator died, then it may be more difficult to prove financial need.
Mistakes in the drafting and execution of the Will – here you would need to show that there was an error that made the testator’s intentions unclear. So, for instance, if they have left their estate in various percentages to different beneficiaries, but the total doesn’t add up to 100%, then there could be grounds for making a claim. So too would being able to show that the Will wasn’t correctly witnessed or signed.
Want of knowledge – for a Will to be valid, the person making it must have knowledge of, and approve its contents. Here, you will need to provide evidence that the testator wasn’t aware of the contents of their Will, and the circumstances surrounding its creation give cause for suspicion.
Fraud, forgery – you can contest a Will if you believe that the deceased’s signature is a forgery, or that there was fraud involved. For example, if someone told the testator a lie which influenced their opinion, resulting in them cutting someone out of their Will or reducing their inheritance, then this would be grounds to bring a claim.
This list isn’t exhaustive, so If you believe you have a claim, then it’s advisable to seek legal help as soon as possible, as some grounds have tight deadlines attaching to them.
How we can help
Every case is different. Sometimes the circumstances can mean that there might be several grounds under which a claim could be made. We can assess the strength of your case and advise you on the most appropriate course of action, explaining everything in plain English.
So, if you think you have grounds for challenging a Will, do get in touch. You’ll find us highly-experienced, knowledgeable and approachable. Call us on 0203 871 0110 or email our New Enquiries team firstname.lastname@example.org