How to stop a Will being challenged. Inheritance solicitor, Chris Holten, looks at the steps you can take to prevent a Will being contested.
Wills that can lead to contested Will disputes
Occasionally, when someone makes a Will they know there is a good chance that the contents are likely to upset family members or close friends. This in turn can lead to the Will being challenged.
Wills that are more likely to result in a dispute include:
- Favouring one child over another;
- Excluding a child because of their behaviour;
- Benefiting a charity;
- Protecting a family member who lives with you;
- Leaving your estate to your spouse, who is not the biological parent of your children; and
- Leaving your estate to a family friend rather than your family.
Challenges to Wills
While we are all free to make a Will and leave our estate to whoever we wish, it is wrong to assume that a Will cannot be challenged.
The terms of a Will can be challenged in a number of ways. It can for instance be declared invalid; please see our article on type of invalidity challenges that can be made. Alternatively, a Will can be challenged if it fails to make sufficient provision for certain people who were close to the deceased; see our article on Inheritance Act claims.
How to stop a Will being challenged
While it is impossible to guarantee that a someone will not try to challenge your Will, there are a number of steps that can be taken that will make this less likely. These include:
- Discussing the terms of your Will with your loved ones before you die. Doing so gives you opportunity to explain the terms of your Will and addressing any concern that potential beneficiaries may have;
- Creating a life interest trust which can benefit your spouse or partner for their lifetime before benefiting your children when they too pass away;
- Obtain evidence which will help your beneficiaries defend any challenge which may be made against your will after you die;
- Try and take into account and balance the needs of all potential beneficiaries;
- Make some provision for people who may have grounds to challenge your Will. Often this can act as a deterrent, particularly if the gift within your Will is contingent upon the beneficiary not challenging the Will after you die; and
- Make sure that your Will is legally valid by consulting a specialist Wills solicitor who is experienced in dealing with challenges to Wills.
What can be done if a Will is challenged?
If the Will is challenged then the executors and the beneficiaries will need to take specialist legal advice on what can be done to defend the claim. There are a number of ways in which challenges to the validity of a Will or claims under the Inheritance Act can be defeated. But it is important to consult solicitors who are experienced in this specialised field as soon as the dispute arises.
If you would like guidance on how to stop a Will being challenged then please contact our legal helpline for a free case assessment on 0333 888 0404 or send an email to [email protected]