In most circumstances, the last will and testament is the paramount document. It is the document that determines how an estate is divided and ensures the deceased wishes are carried out.
However, this does not mean there are not instances where it can be contested. Though these situations are rare, they do occur.
How Can a Will Be Contested?
A will can be contested for only a few reasons. One of the most prominent reasons to contest a will is because there is evidence of fraud. Perhaps they had dementia during their last codicil (the official name for updates to the will), or perhaps the signature was falsified.
Other reasons why a will can be contested is if a named beneficiary doesn’t receive anything in the will, or if the contester financially relied on the deceased but not explicitly named (for example, a previous spouse who relied on childcare support).
Who Can Contest a Will?
Not everyone can contest a will. The only ones who can are blood relatives, spouses, creditors, a person who was named a beneficiary beforehand but then excluded later on, a person who relied financially on the deceased, or someone who was verbally or otherwise promised a gift that was forgotten in the will.
What Happens if Someone Contests a Will?
It’s crucial to bear in mind that there are time limits to contesting a will. If you were not named in the will, you have within 6 months of probate being granted. If you were named in the will, you have up to 12 years, and if the reason the will is being contested is due to fraud, there are no time limits.
Build the Case
When contesting a will, there are a few steps to take. The first is to build evidence. This means proving either fraud, promises made by the deceased, debts owed by the deceased, or proof of financial reliance.
File Your Case with the Probate Registry
Once you have the case, you will need to file it with the probate registry. This case will be filed into a document known as a caveat. Ideally, you will issue this before probate, as it stops probate from being issued.
Working with The Inheritance Experts will give you expert negotiators working on your behalf when contesting the will. Most solicitors will work to resolve the issue out of court so that all parties can leave with an agreeable settlement. This process can take a long time, even up to a year or more.
In some instances, the case is settled out of court. Though the person who contests the will likely won’t receive the full sum of what they wanted, this is the best way to settle the matter in a way that most parties agree and everyone goes home a winner.
OR: Go to Court
If negotiations don’t go well, the issue can be taken to court. This is the worst case scenario and is only reserved for extreme cases.
Contesting a will is a long process, but if you feel like you have been unfairly excluded from the will, are a creditor, or believe fraud was involved, then it is important to hire professionals to build your case for you and fight for you so that you have the greatest chance of success.