When a loved one passes away, it can be a difficult grieving period for all who were close to them. Unfortunately, surprises in the deceased’s will can cause more upset during this time, as some people find there are suspicious circumstances surrounding it. No matter why you want to contest a will, you will need proof to improve your chances of seeing a successful claim go through. It helps to know exactly what kind of evidence you need before searching for it, so take note of these important steps.
Establishing your grounds for contesting a will
Knowing what legal grounds you stand on helps you determine if you are able to contest a will to begin with. If you do have grounds to contest, knowing why you are doing it will also enable you to streamline how you collect evidence. Here are some of the most common grounds to contest with:
- The deceased didn’t have the mental capacity to write the will. For example, if they were experiencing psychosis due to a mental health disorder.
- They did not understand or approve content of the will. Those hard of hearing, eyesight, or who have dictated that someone else sign the will fall under this bracket.
- Undue influence. These grounds apply to someone who had pressure placed on them to write their will a certain way.
- For circumstances where a will does not reflect the deceased’s intentions.
- Fraudulent wills.
- It was not properly executed as per the Wills Act 1837.
Vital evidence to collect
Depending on which grounds you follow to contest the will, you will need specific evidence to back up your claims. One of the best examples is when you are contesting a will because you trust that the deceased didn’t have the mental capacity to write it. In this case, you will need to heavily rely on medical notes.
Those who were present at the time of drafting and signing the will are important to determining if a will is valid. This also includes those who may have known the testator well before they passed away. Examples of witnesses include, but are not limited to:
- Solicitors who drew up the will.
- People who witness the signing of the will.
- Those, aside from medical professionals, who can attest to the deceased’s state of mind during the will.
- Loved ones involved in taking care of the testator before they died.
- Anyone who believes they have knowledge over the deceased’s previous intentions regarding their assets.
There may be written documents the deceased had written which indicate something different from what was written in their will. If these can be found and validated, they could offer a valuable insight into what their true intentions were. It could be that you find a journal entry which speaks of any pressure they were placed under to change it, or letters written to someone expressing their truest wishes.
As mentioned, medical notes are important pieces of evidence that can prove whether or not a person was in sound mind when creating their will. Yet, they are also testament to the testator’s health, age, and any disabilities which may have impaired them from making an informed decision. These can be collected from doctors or other medical professionals around in the time before the deceased passed, and includes notes showing which kinds of medications they may have been taking.