We have a specialist unit of solicitors who are recognized experts in dealing with matters involving the contesting of a will, an area known as contentious probate. Our will dispute solicitors act for both those who are defending an estate against a challenge to the will, and those who wish to contest a will.
Will Dispute Solicitors: Contentious Probate
Probate is the process of determining the validity of a will. When a person dies, unless the total value of the estate is under £15,000.00 (in most cases, but not all), then the will must go through probate to determine its validity. Hence, contentious probate arises where there is a dispute over inheritance and the validity of a will.
Those contesting a will may feel that they did not receive what they should have, or they may have concerns about the manner in which the will was made
Challenging The Validity Of A Will
For a will to be valid, it must comply with section 7 of the Wills Act 1837, in that the person making the will must have attained the age of 18 at the time of the making the will. Furthermore, it must comply with section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 (as substituted by the Administration of Justice Act 1982, s. 17), in that:-
- It must be in writing
- It must be signed by the Testator (or in the alternative, by somebody in the presence of the testator, and at the testators direction)
- In signing the will, the testator must have intended to give effect to the will voluntarily and without undue influence, and must have been of sound mind (i.e. capable of understanding what the effect of the will is)
- Two or more witnesses must be present at the same time that the signature is made or acknowledged by the Testator, and each witness then attests and signs the will (or acknowledges their signature) in the presence of the Testator
The validity of a will can be challenged on any of the following grounds:-
- That the will does not comply with the formal requirements set out under the Wills Act 1937, as set out above
- That the testator was not of sound mind and lacked testamentary capacity, and/or there was a lack of knowledge/approval
- That there was undue influence vis-a-vis the testator
- Fraud and/or forgery
Contesting A Will: Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
A will can be contested under the provisions of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (hereafter referred to as the IA 1975), where the person contesting a will asserts that the testator did not make sufficient financial provision for them in the will. Any claim must be made within 6 months of the grant of probate, or letters of administration (i.e. should the deceased be intestate, having not made a Will). To be eligible to make a claim, the Claimant must fit into one of the following categories listed in section 1(1) of the IA 1975:-
- The spouse of the deceased
- A former spouse of the deceased who has not remarried
- The partner of the deceased who was living with the deceased for the 2 years immediately prior to their death
- A child of the deceased
- A person treated as a child of the family by the deceased
- A person who was supported financially, in part or in whole, by the deceased
Should the person who wishes to contest a will fall into one of the aforementioned categories, then they next need to establish whether they have reasonable grounds for making a challenge. The following constitute reasonable grounds:-
- That the will does not reflect the deceased’s wishes
- A mistake was made in relation to the will
- The deceased was not of sound mind and lacked testamentary capacity, and/or there was a lack of knowledge/approval (e.g. they were suffering from dementia)
- That there was undue influence vis-a-vis the testator
- That the will does not comply with the formal requirements for a valid will, as set out under the Wills Act 1937
- That the person contesting the will was financially maintained by the deceased, and has been treated unfairly by them either by being insufficiently provided for under the terms of the will or by having been left out of the will altogether
Will Dispute Solicitors: What To Do If You Have A Case
Should you require assistance from one of our will dispute solicitors, please do not hesitate to contact us, either by calling us on 0333 301 0700 or by completing the questionnaire on the right hand side of this page. As stated, our will dispute solicitors are recognized experts in dealing with matters involving the contesting of a will and contentious probate. We represent both estates who are defending a challenge to a will, and those who are contesting a will.
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