We say it often: experiencing the death of a loved one is never easy. When there are financial matters to attend to after they pass away, this adds even more distress to the grieving process. However, when it comes to the legal right to dispute a will, you need to explore your options.
Before you enter into a legal dispute over a will, ask yourself if it’s worth the tensions that may arise within your family. If so, here is how you assess whether or not you can legally dispute it, and how to increase your chances of a successful claim.
Legal right to dispute a will: the grounds to do so
Merely holding suspicions over a will is not enough to give you legal sway when disputing it. Most solicitors will require that you have solid legal grounds for a dispute before they accept a case.
Legal grounds may cover circumstances where:
- There was no valid execution of the will.
- Situations where there was no knowledge or approval of the will.
- Any rectification grounds.
- Undue influence.
- Lack of testamentary capacity.
Further legal help may be needed when contesting a will that may be fraudulent, as this presents you with grounds to involve the police and could well result in a longer investigation.
Who can legally contest a will?
It is not just the grounds for disputes that you must consider when assessing whether you are legally able to contest a will, as you must also consider who you are. There is a long list of people who can do this. If you are on here, you are off to a good start:
- Family members directly related to the deceased, e.g. Children or grandchildren.
- Spouses who are still legally married to the deceased, even if they are estranged.
- Someone who was promised something in the will before the deceased passed, but was not then included in it.
- Debt creditors.
- Someone who financially depended on the deceased.
- A beneficiary who was named in a previous will, but not this one.
How to begin a dispute
Remember that as soon as a dispute is brought to light, you will have plenty of time to make sure you cover each stage of the process as thoroughly as possible. It helps to have a solicitor on hand throughout this time, who can provide both emotional and legal support to everyone involved.
While finding the right solicitor is a great first step, you must also make sure you have enough proof when presenting your findings. This is because merely speculative cause for a claim will not give you the legal backing you need to ensure your claim is successful. It may be that you launch a full-scale investigation into the validity of the will in the lead up to this.
It must also be noted that if you are set on disputing a will, do this before probate goes through to avoid drawing it out. It is more affordable for all parties to try mediation before beginning a dispute. Ultimately, however, with one in four siblings saying they would dispute a will, if an agreement cannot be reached, you are perfectly entitled to do so. This is as long as you are aware of the risks involved.