Challenging the validity of a Will
When a loved ones dies, if you are suspicious or unhappy with the contents of their Will you may be able to challenge or contest the Will’s validity. There are a number of reasons or grounds for contesting a Will, including:
- Lack of proper formalities
All Wills must follow certain formalities in order to be valid, for example they must be written, signed and witnessed correctly. It is relatively easy to make a mistake when executing a Will and homemade Wills are particularly susceptible to challenge for failing to comply with formalities.
- Lack of testamentary capacity
A person must be of sound mind and be able to comprehend their assets when making a Will. Contesting a Will based on lack of capacity often requires evidence from medical experts, to discover whether the person had signs of confusion or dementia when making the Will.
- Lack of knowledge and approval
A person must know and approve of the contents of their Will. If the circumstances surrounding the preparation or execution of the Will ‘excite suspicion’, it may not be valid – for example, if the Will was drafted by one of its beneficiaries.
- Undue influence
If a Will does not reflect the true wishes of the testator it can be set aside. Undue influence can take various and subtle forms – bullying, intimidation or even maligning a third party to cause someone to change their Will. It must be proved that the person was coerced into making the Will, it is not enough that they were persuaded, and coercion must always be demonstrated with strong evidence.
- Forgery or fraud
If a Will has been tampered with or was not signed by the deceased, it will not be valid. Fraud is a serious allegation and must be supported by evidence, usually from a handwriting analysis expert.
- Will rectification
If there was a clerical error when making the Will, or the deceased’s instructions were not understood, an application for the Will to be rectified can be made.
How long do I have to contest a Will?
When contesting a Will there is a time limit of 12 years from the date of death, or in the case of fraud there is no time limit. It is however vital to take expert legal advice as soon as there are grounds to do so, to prevent the estate being distributed based on an incorrect Will.
Contesting a Will – How we can help
At Nelsons, we have a specialist team of inheritance disputes solicitors in Derby, Leicester and Nottingham who can help you challenge a Will.
Our team specialise in Will disputes and includes members of The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS). The team is also recommended by the independently-researched Legal 500 as one of the top teams of specialists in the country.
To discuss how our specialist team of inheritance disputes solicitors might be able to act on your behalf when contesting a Will, please call 0800 024 1976 or contact us via our online enquiry form.
"Lawyers at Nelsons Solicitors Limited have ‘a breadth of specialist knowledge’, which is evidenced across all forms of contentious trusts and probate litigation. Recent work included a number of high-value Inheritance Act matters, will disputes and estoppel claims.”Legal 500
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