The majority of wills that have been drawn up and which are executed followed someone’s passing have bene drawn up properly according to law and stipulate exactly what the deceased wants to happen to the various parts of their estate.
However, there are times when wills aren’t drawn up properly or reasonable suspicions could occur that the will have been interfered with, is not legitimate or the deceased was pressured into drawing up a will in a certain way that is unfair to their beneficiaries.
Therefore, there can be a number of reasons to contest a will. It is also worth remembering that, in the majority of cases, there is a six-month period where any disputes must be filed, although there are different timescales depending on your reasons for disputing a will.
In this guide, we will outline three of the main reasons why a will can be disputed.
- An invalid will
There are strict guidelines in place that cover the legal and procedural requirements of a legally binding will. One of the more common will dispute cases stem from claimants who believe that the will is invalid.
Reasons why a will can be invalid include:
- Non-execution of will – The Wills Act of 1837 sets out the specific legal guidelines for a will. If there are any legal errors on the document, a case can be made to declare a will invalid. One of the most common instances of this kind of dispute is due to a lack of signatures from the relevant witnesses and the testator.
- Fraud and Duress – If a claimant believes that a will has been drawn up under duress, or that there are instances of fraud in the final will, then they will be able to make a claim to invalidate the will.
- Testamentary Capacity – Anyone making a will must be mentally capable of doing so. This will include understanding the implications of the will that they sign. The expression ‘sound mind’ is often cited in these cases.
If you believe that a will is invalid, evidence will need to be provided. In cases of testamentary capacity, it will be up to the estate executors to establish the mental capacity of the deceased. If the will is declared invalid, then the rules of intestacy will be implemented.
- Claims of dependency
The Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975 covers those instances where a dependant has not received sufficient provisions in the will. If the deceased was providing for someone financially up until their death, then it is possible to claim that this was to be expected after they have died.
In most dependency claims, the claimant is a spouse, a child, a cohabitee or a close family member or friend. Courts will consider the age of the dependents, the duration and nature of the relationship with the deceased and their expected quality of life if the deceased had not passed away. Courts may then award a lump sum or a series of maintenance payments.
- Additional disputes
If the above factors are not relevant, a will can still be changed if a claimant believes that an original will has been lost, or if property and finances have been disputed by another potential owner. These instances will require the claimant to provide evidence to start their claim.
How we can help
It is essential that you seek legal representation from a solicitor who specialises in will disputes as early as possible. With time limits applicable depending on the type of dispute that you wish to make, the earlier that you begin the process, the more likely that you avoid unnecessary complications to the process.
At The Inheritance Experts, we work with specialist law firms who have a proven track record in helping people when they wsnt to dispute a loved one’s will. This means they are well-placed to help you get the proportion of the estate you are entitled to.
If you believe you have grounds to contest a will and want to know if you have a realistic claim, do not hesitate to get in touch with The Inheritance Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.