When you are grieving over the loss of a loved one, it can be even more distressing to find yourself in conflict with other family members over the contents of a Will. Sadly,disputes over wills and inheritances appear to be increasing as extended families become more complex.
Contesting a Will
There are certain circumstances in which it is possible to challenge a Will.
Relatives or interested parties may decide to contest a Will because they feel that there is something 'not right' about it.
The decision to contest a Will should not be taken lightly since it can be financially costly and emotionally draining. It is important to get legal advice as to the merit of your case. If you successfully challenge a Will, it will be declared invalid. In this instance the next most valid Will stands and if there is no other Will the rules of intestacy will apply.
Grounds for successfully contesting a Will in England and Wales might be :
Undue Influence - i.e. if you can demonstrate that at the time the will was made, the Testator (Person who made the Will) was coerced, intimidated, deceived or manipulated by another party to influence the content of the will to that party's advantage.
Lack of testamentary capacity - if you can show that the Testator did not know what they were doing at the time that they made the Will.
It is also possible to challenge the provision made with a Will in the following circumstances:
- If you were promised land or property by the Testator during their lifetime but the Will does not reflect this. Here you may use a legal challenge called 'Proprietary Estoppel'.
- If you were financially dependent on the deceased, you may wish to argue that insufficient provision has been made for you in the Will. In this case you would bring a claim under the Inheritance( Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
There are also other reasons for challenging a will, such as administrative errors which might affect your legacy i.e. a zero missing leaving you with £5,000 rather than £50,000.
You may also decide to take action if you believe that an executor or trustee is behaving improperly.
We have experience both in challenging Wills and also in defending challenges to a Will, and advising on the action to be taken due to the absence of a Will.
If you are concerned about any aspect of a Will or inheritance disputes, contact Simon King on 01827 317071 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.