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Can I challenge a Will?

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Losing a loved one is a distressing time, and it can be made worse if there are disagreements regarding the Will left behind by the deceased. When drafting a Will, there are strict rules which need to be adhered to and if there are doubts or concerns about how it was prepared, then this can cause challenges to the validity of the Will.                                  

Who can challenge a Will?

Generally, anyone who is a beneficiary or was likely to benefit from the Will is able to contest it. These people include;

  • A blood relative or spouse
  • Someone who was financially dependent on the deceased
  • Someone who was named in an earlier Will
  • Someone who is owed a debt by the deceased
  • Someone who was promised something in the Will by the deceased, but was not included in the Will

Also, if you were meant to inherit from a Will but it was not prepared correctly, then you may be able to make a professional negligence claim against the person who drafted it.

The rules regarding who has the right to challenge a Will are complex, so it is sensible to seek legal advice before making a claim.

What are the grounds for challenging a Will?

There are a number of reasons why you might challenge a Will. Common grounds for contesting a Will include;

  • Lack of testamentary capacity – the person making the Will was not of sound mind at the time.
  • Lack of knowledge and approval – the person making the Will was not aware of and did not knowingly approve the contents of the Will before signing it.
  • Undue influence – the person making the Will was unduly influenced or under duress at the time.
  • Fraud or forgery – the Will is believed to have been forged by someone other than the deceased or someone intentionally deceived the testator to get them to alter the Will to their advantage.
  • Rectification – the Will was ill-prepared or there was a clerical error which failed to carry out the deceased’s intentions.
  • Lack of valid execution – the Will is invalid as it did not meet one or more of the requirements laid out in the Wills Act 1837.

How long does it take to challenge a Will?

Challenging a Will can be a lengthy and complex process, lasting anywhere between a few months to a few years, depending on the circumstances. It is a good idea to try to resolve any issues through mediation where possible, which can help save time, reduce costs and avoid going to court.

There are however, time limits when challenging a Will, which vary depending on the circumstances. For example, there are no time limits when contesting a Will on the grounds of fraud, but if you are claiming under the Inheritance Act, the time limit is six months from the date that probate is granted. Generally, the sooner you can make your claim, the better.

Can a Will be challenged after probate is granted?

Once probate has been granted, challenging a Will can be a little more difficult, particularly if assets have begun to be distributed to the beneficiaries. Where possible, it is preferable for your claim to be submitted prior to any of the estate’s assets being distributed.

You may be able to prevent a Grant of Probate from being issued if you can submit your claim with the evidence as early as possible. You can also prevent probate being granted by entering a caveat at your local Probate Registry for a small fee. This lasts for six months and can be extended if required.

This is a complex area of law, so it is essential to seek legal advice before submitting any claim.

Get help challenging a Will

If you need help challenging a Will, get in touch with our expert Dispute Resolution solicitors. Our aim is to resolve disputes as quickly as possible and in a cost-effective manner. Call us today on 01476 372 040 or fill in the form to the right of this page.