What is the process of contesting a Will?
Contesting A Will
The process of contesting a Will can be a very stressful experience, evoking many emotions and tensions amongst the family members of the person who has passed away. It can be overwhelming to have to endure all the legal formalities, legal terminology, determining which grounds to contest on, on top of handling the potential familial fallouts and other stresses, which can overcomplicate an already frustrating experience.
If you have concerns about how a Will has been made or think it is a poor reflection of the deceased’s final wishes, you may want to challenge its validity. Our dedicated lawyers are here to listen and fully advise you. At Eric Robinson Solicitors, we have had many years of experience dealing professionally and sensitively with potential disputes or queries arising from Wills.
There are various factors to consider when disputing a Will, in this blog, we go over some of the most frequently asked questions and some of the steps you can take.
What are the reasons to contest a Will?
There are many reasons behind contesting a Will, which can include:
- Lack of due execution – A Will has to comply with certain formalities. If there is a lack of due execution, this is a ground on which you can dispute a Will.
- Lack of testamentary capacity – The testamentary capacity refers to the mental and legal ability of the testator to make or alter a valid Will. If the testator lacks testamentary capacity at the time of executing the Will, then the Will is regarded as invalid.
- Undue influence – This refers to when a person is forced into making or changing the contents of the Will usually so that it benefits the person who is engaging in the coercion. If you have evidence of this, it is grounds for contesting a Will.
- Fraudulent calumny- This is the instance where the testator makes their independent decision to make a Will, but their view of the initial beneficiary has been skewed or altered by another beneficiary which has affected how they draft their Will. It is very similar to undue influence.
- Fraud or forgery- When a Will has been made without the knowledge of the deceased, or the signature on it is forged, this would be considered a forged Will. This often happens when fraudsters target elderly people who do not have contact with their families and convince them to put them in their Will.
What is the timescale of contesting a Will?
With inheritance dispute matters, you should speak to a specialist solicitor as soon as possible. Ideally you need to act before the administration of the estate begins; it can become much more complicated to deal with a dispute if funds have already been released to any beneficiaries. Some contesting grounds have a limit of 6 months from the grant of probate, but others like forgery or fraud have no limit.
What happens if the Will is found to be invalid?
If the Will is declared invalid, then the deceased’s assets will be distributed according to any previous Will, or in the absence of an earlier Will, the Laws of Intestacy apply. Typically, distribution of an intestate estate follows family relations with assets awarded to the spouse first, then to children, and so on.
What costs are involved in contesting a Will?
The exact costs vary from case to case, but at Eric Robinson, our team of experienced dispute resolution lawyers are experts in their field and are sensitive to the wants and needs of their clients. Therefore, they ensure they are transparent and concise about the fees required. We understand this can be an incredibly difficult time for our clients, and we always deal with matters sensitively.
At Eric Robinson Solicitors our expert lawyers can provide a no-obligation, fixed-fee one-hour interview for £125.00 plus VAT (£150) to help you establish whether you have a claim. If you decide to instruct us beyond this initial meeting, then we will discuss with you the various funding options that may be available, and we will help you find the one to suit you.
Most disputes about Wills and Estates are settled before they get to court. That is what we aim for at Eric Robinson Solicitors, because we recognise that taking a claim to court can be expensive and stressful for families. So, we will explore the ways of settling the dispute including mediation and negotiation. And we’ll make sure that our strategy and advice is tailor-made for you.
For more information, download our advice guide by clicking on the link below:
Protecting your Estate and Preventing a Claim
One of the most robust forms of ‘insurance’ you can have, to ensure your estate is dealt with in accordance with your wishes, is to seek expert legal advice and put in place a well drafted Will. Our specialist private client team can guide you on the right solution for you, taking in to consideration all other overlapping areas of law, such as; trust administration, family law and property. All of which are essential factors in effective estate management. With our expert knowledge of inheritance claims, we can help you ensure that where possible, risks of a disputes are avoided in the first place.
How to find out more about contesting a Will
If you are concerned about the contents of a Will, it is very important to get in touch with our team who can find the right solution for you. Eric Robinson Solicitors has 6 offices open to the public located throughout Hampshire and Surrey. Make an online enquiry or call on 02380 218000.