When a loved one dies, they leave behind a lot more than simply an empty hole in their lives. They also, in many cases, leave a Will. A Will is a legal document that explicitly states how the deceased wishes to divide their assets amongst their loved ones.
The deceased does not, however, have to leave their estate to their dependents. They can instead leave it to whoever they wish, which can in some cases mean that you are excluded from it. If you feel that this was a mistake, or that you have been excluded, for example, because you married your spouse after their Will was last updated, you will need to take your case to court in order to prove your claim.
Can You Contest a Will?
The first thing you need to know is how to contest a Will. The Inheritance Act 1975 lays down clear rules on who can and cannot contest a Will. Therefore, to have the right to contest an executed Will, you will need to be one of the following:
- The legal spouse or civil partner of the deceased
- The former spouse or civil partner of the deceased, if you have not remarried
- A child of the deceased
- A surrogate child of the family, related by blood or not
- Anyone who was maintained and cared for by the deceased
When Can You Contest a Will?
You can only contest a Will in England and Wales if the deceased was a resident and residing in these countries when they died, though this may change in the future. It does not matter where you, the claimant, live.
What Will You Need to Do If You Contest a Will
What you will need to do depends on your relationship to the deceased. A spouse or civil partner can contest the Will, and the court will often conduct “the divorce test” which in other words goes through the theoretical process of divorce. How much you could receive in that situation is often what a dependent spouse could hope to receive. The court will consider:
- The length of marriage
- The contribution made by you towards the home and family
What you can receive will also depend on:
- Your current financial situation and needs
- The current financial situation and the needs of other claimants
- The obligations and responsibilities that the deceased may have had towards the other beneficiaries.
- Disabilities held by all the claimants and beneficiaries
- The size of the estate
- Other relevant information that is unique to each case
What is the Likelihood of Success?
The short answer is that, unless you can prove a financial dependency on the deceased, there is a slim chance of winning. Adult children who are self-sufficient who were left out of the Will have a very small chance of winning due to their circumstances.
What You Should Do Next
When it comes to challenging a Will, it is always wise to hire legal counsel. We will help you determine whether or not you have a case, and then proceed to fight for you to receive your right to be included in the Will.