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 evidence is needed to contest a will.
So instead of searching for it, stick around and take note of these important steps.
Establishing your grounds to show what evidence is needed to contest a will
Knowing what legal grounds you stand on helps you determine if you are able to contest a will in the first place. 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 the 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 from another party
These grounds apply to when the testator faces consequential pressure to write their will a certain way.
The will doesn’t reflect a testator’s true intent
Accordingly, this is for circumstances where a will does not truly reflect the testator’s intentions.
Simply put, fraudulence is when benefits are shown to be procured by fraud. Moreover, you can challenge if fraud is even under suspicion, thus bringing the will itself into question.
Execution of the will violate the Wills Act 1837
Specifically, section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 is under violation in this scenario. As a result, the will becomes invalid and the estate passes under the statutory rules of intestacy.
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 determine 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 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 a testament to the testator’s health, age, and any disabilities which may impair them from making an knowledgeable 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.