The loss of a loved one is clearly a very distressing time, particularly if you then find out that you have been left out of their will.
Therefore, this may mean that you will need to contest their last will and testament. Here are some of the main queries you may have when it comes to challenging a will.
Who Can Challenge a Will?
- Blood relatives. These are the people most likely to contest a will.
- A spouse. Regardless of whether they were still happily married to or separated from the deceased, if they were still legally married to the deceased, they have the right to challenge the will.
- A creditor. This is if the deceased’s estate owes the creditor money.
- A beneficiary. This can be a person named in an earlier will.
- An individual who relied on the deceased. This can be through financial support or accommodation.
- An individual who had an item promised. This could be a verbal or written agreement between the deceased and the individual, and a challenge can be made if the agreement was not mentioned in the will.
Why Might a Will Be Challenged?
There are a variety of reasons, both legal and personal, why a will might be challenged.
For example, a person might contest a will if they feel that they have been unfairly treated or not given what they are owed. Therefore, they would be challenging the will as a matter of principle. As part of this, they may also feel that they know the deceased’s intentions and feel as though the will has not communicated them well enough. In order to prove this, the person would need to show that they had a close relationship with the deceased. Again, this can be shown in a variety of ways; the two were married, or in a long-term committed relationship and cohabiting, for example.
The legal grounds for contesting a will, meanwhile, are as follows:
- The will is invalid – for example, it was produced incorrectly or was not signed in the presence of two independent co-signing witnesses.
- The writer of the will was not considered mentally fit enough to be signing a legal document.
- The document or signature was forged. This can be hard to prove though.
- The writer of the will was pressured or coerced into creating the will or changing an existing will.
- The will doesn’t adequately provide for those who were financially dependent upon the deceased.
What Happens When Someone Challenges A Will?
In the first instance, it needs to be checked that the person contesting the will has the right to do so. If so, proceedings will begin for negotiation and mediation. The elected solicitor will seek an agreement which benefits all parties involved, in the quickest time possible and with minimal financial expenditure.
However, despite the best intentions of any legal parties and individuals involved, sometimes it may be impossible to come to an agreement during the mediation stage. If this is the case, the issue will then be taken a step further to court, and you will adhere to a court hearing. This could include a wait of at least 12 months before an official court date, therefore this avenue is particularly time-consuming and expensive.
An affidavit will need to be prepared in advance of the hearing, and a court will hear the argument and come to a resolution.
How we can help
If you are considering contesting a will, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. At The Inheritance Experts, we are experienced at helping people who want to contest a will or trust get what is rightfully theirs.
When you call us, one of our advisors will chat through the particular circumstances of your potential claim and advise whether you may have grounds for a claim. This is done on a free, no-obligation basis.
If you then decided to proceed with your claim, we will match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances. Your solicitor will then collect any evidence and will begin negotiating with the other side.
If you are thinking of challenging a will and would like to know if you have grounds for a valid claim, do not hesitate to contact The Inheritance Experts by filling in the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.