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Who Can Contest a Will?

10 November 2021

Lauren Smith

Signing of a Will

When a loved one dies, the process of distributing their estate and navigating through the contents of the Will is distressing enough which can be increased when parties contest the contents of the Will. However, some have a genuine case for stopping the administration of the estate, and are entitled to make a claim. If you are the Executor or Beneficiary of an estate and you wish to uphold the Will’s contents, or if you wish to prevent the distribution of the estate, our will dispute solicitors are here to help.

Here a Taylor Bracewell Solicitors in Doncaster and Sheffield, our team can analyse your case and provide expert legal advice and guidance concerning the best course of action. We have experience in dealing with contentious probate disputes, helping clients bring a claim against a trust or estate or protecting the deceased’s wishes should an Executor / Beneficiary wish to defend a claim. There are a number of ways that a Will can be contested.  Some examples of such are outlined in our latest article below.

 

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

This can apply whether the Deceased left a Will or if they died intestate (without leaving a Will). In legal terms, anyone can technically challenge a Will, but certain claimants will have more chance depending on their relationship with the deceased when they were alive. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 outlines who can contest a Will based upon whether the deceased made ‘reasonable financial provisions’ for the claimant. According to the Act, individuals who can make a claim include, but are not limited to:

  • Direct family members, such as children or grandchildren
  • A spouse or civil partner
  • Anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased
  • Any beneficiaries

If you wish to stop an estate from being distributed, you must bring an Inheritance Act claim within six months from either the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.  There are times when claims can be allowed beyond this period, but these are rare and at the Courts discretion.  Therefore we always recommend that the six months time limit is adhered to.  This means you have six months to seek legal advice and build up your case. Also for such to be settled or Court proceedings issued.  Our will dispute solicitors understand the grounds for contesting a will, and can help you make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975.  Given the restrictive time limit we would always suggest that you do not delay in seeking legal advice.  To find out more about our will and probate services, please visit us here.

To reach a decision about such inheritance disputes, the court must take into account the claimants financial needs, both presently and in the future, as well as any obligations the deceased had towards them and the size and nature of the deceased’s estate.  Along with the needs of any other beneficiaries.

 

‘Reasonable Grounds’

Anyone who decides to challenge a Will must have ‘reasonable grounds’ for making a claim in the first place. If you believe the will is invalid, the deceased was under undue influence at the time of drafting the will or they lacked the appropriate mental capacity (or lack testamentary capacity), then the burden of proof falls upon the person making the claim. To find out more about proving the validity of a Will, please read our previous article here.

Feeling frustrated with the contents of the Will and not being happy with being left out might not be sufficient enough reason for contesting a Will. For a Will to be valid, it must be made in writing, and the deceased must have possessed the appropriate mental capacity, and they must not have been pressured or coerced into writing its contents.

Here at Taylor Bracewell Solicitors in Doncaster and Sheffield, we understand the emotional toll that contentious will and probate disputes can have upon our clients. Therefore, we can assist you throughout your case, providing expert guidance and advice to help build your claim. To inquire further, please get in touch today by filling out our online form here.