Contesting a Will

There are all sorts of reasons for contesting a will, very often this comes down to fairness or views on loved one’s last wishes. Your sibling may have been left more than you or your last surviving parent may have met a new partner and has left everything to them.

You may have been promised something during their lifetime which hasn’t made its way into their will or maybe you were left out entirely.

Alternatively, there may be issues with the validity of the will itself or the testator’s mental capacity at the time their will was prepared and/or signed.

Our inheritance disputes team are experienced in a variety of circumstances when clients are considering contesting a will. Your ability to successfully contest a will depends on your individual situation so it is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Who can contest a Will?

The likelihood of you successfully contesting a will depends on your relationship with the person that made the will.

The most common groups of people to challenge a will are:-

The Inheritance Act 1975 details who can bring a claim against an estate.

If you are a former spouse you normally cease to be a beneficiary if you divorce unless the will states otherwise. If you had separated but did not yet get a divorce you will remain a beneficiary if you were listed as one.

What are the grounds for contesting a Will?

When considering whether you can contest a will, your claim will need to fall under one (or more) of the following:

Is there a time limit to bringing a claim?

If you are considering making a claim you should seek legal advice as soon as you can to make sure you do not miss particular time restrictions. For example any claim under the Inheritance Act must be made within six months of the issue of the grant of probate. If you are bringing a claim in different circumstances you could have up to 12 years. It is best to talk to a member of our team as soon as possible to understand your situation and any possible time restrictions.

How long does contesting a Will take?

The process of contesting a will varies depending on the situation. Our lawyers will be able to advise you of the timescale depending on your circumstances.

Will I have to go to court?

If you are considering contesting a will, the best approach will be to discuss your concerns with the executors and/or beneficiaries. You may be able to negotiate an agreed solution and avoid having to go to court. If you can’t reach an agreement with the other party you should take legal advice before proceeding. Alternative dispute resolution methods can be considered such as mediation which is carried about by a trained third party. If all other routes are unsuccessful, you could then go to court to challenge the will.

Who will pay the legal costs?

If the case goes to court, each side will be responsible for their legal costs during the proceedings. At the conclusion, the judge will decide who should pay, which often results in the losing side paying the costs for both sides. Sometimes the costs are paid from the estate.

If you are considering challenging a will please contact one of our team here for clear guidance and practical advice.