On what basis can I contest a will?
You can contest a will where you feel the will is invalid (an invlaidity claim) or if the will fails to provide financial provision to someone who deserves it (an Inheritance Act claim).
Can I contest a will on grounds of invalidity?
A will can be invalid for a number of reasons. If one of these grounds applies then you can contest the will and have it formally declared invalid by the court.
If a will is declared invalid, any earlier will that was made then becomes applicable. If there is no earlier valid will then the intestacy rules apply. It is therefore important for anyone who is planning to contest a will to consider whether they will benefit if their challenge succeeds as it is rarely cost effective to contest a will unless you stand to benefit from the successful outcome.
One of the most popular grounds to contest a will is on the basis of mental capacity. This is where the maker of the will lacks sufficient mental competence to do so. Establishing that someone lacked testamentary capacity is not always straightforward. Medical evidence will often be required, but it is not always conclusive. It is also important to bear in mind that just because someone is ill or suffering from a condition such as Alzheimer’s, it does not necessarily mean that they lack the capacity to make a valid will.
Another common ground for contesting a will is ‘undue influence‘. If someone is compelled or coerced into signing their will then it will be invalid, but clear evidence of ‘undue influence’ will be required to convince a court that such a will is invalid.
Other grounds for contesting the validity of a will include procedural irregularities, lack of knowledge and approval, fraud and forgery.
Can I contest a will by making an Inheritance Act claim?
Spouses, partners, children and dependants can make an Inheritance Act claim if a will fails to make adequate financial provision for them. A successful Inheritance Act claim does not render the will invalid, but the court does have the power to fundamentally vary the provisions of the will and override the intentions of the will writer.
Funding your case
With claims under the Inheritance Act we are usually able to assess whether the case has good prospects of success on the basis of the information you provide. We will also be able to tell you in most cases whether we can work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
Contesting a will on the grounds of invalidity is often less straightforward and a certain amount of investigatory work will often be required to ascertain if there is sufficient evidence to support the claim. If you do not already have that evidence then we can, for an agreed fee, carry out preliminary investigations to establish whether your challenge has sufficient merit to launch a case. This could include obtaining the will preparation file from the solicitors who prepared it or asking them to provide us with a Larke v Nugus statement on the background circumstances to the will being made. Once the strength of the claim has been established we will be able to consider whether we can proceed on a No Win, No Fee basis if desired.
How we can help you contest a will
You can call our free legal helpline on freephone 0333 888 0404 or contact us by email and we will provide you with an initial case assessment.