What Happens If A Family Member’s Will Is Contested?

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There may be many reasons why an individual might decide to dispute the will of a deceased person. It may be that a family member feels unfairly treated, it is believed to have been signed under negligent circumstances, the author of the will did not have the mental capacity to understand the legal document, or there may be suspicions around the authenticity of the will. Whatever the reason, will disputing is valid and will involve a professional inheritance solicitor coming in to assist with the proceedings.

Legal Rights Will Be Checked

For any dispute of a will, the person contesting will have their legal rights checked. This means a solicitor will first need to ensure that the person has the valid right to make a will dispute. In the case of a family member, blood relations are legally allowed to contest a will. If it is your family member’s will, which is being contested, but by an individual who is not a blood relative, they need to be one of the following:

  • A spouse
  • A creditor
  • A person named as beneficiary
  • An individual who relied on the deceased for financial or living support
  • An individual promised something from the deceased, verbally or in writing, but which was not promised officially on the will

If a non-family member is an individual contesting the will, then it will need to be an official family member who states whether they agree with the unfair treatment or not, in order for the dispute to proceed.

Seek Legal Advice at the Earliest Opportunity

There is a time limit on how long a will dispute can be maintained for, so with this in mind, professional solicitors advise for an individual to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to get the ball rolling.

Mediation Will Commence

Once an inheritance solicitor has been assigned, the negotiations and mediation time will begin, which can often take months. The aim is to come to an agreement which satisfies all parties, and dependable legal advice is crucial for this process. It also depends on the cooperation of the individuals involved: for example, if an individual has a legal right to contest the will, but another individual is unwilling to agree, the mediation time can extend even longer.

What Happens If Mediation Doesn’t Work?

If this is the case, then the dispute will be taken to court. The Courts will provide a date, which may include a lengthy wait time, sometimes of 12 months. No further action can be taken in the will dispute until the court date has been met, which means a lot of extended waiting, which can be distressing during the grieving process if you are looking for closure on the situation. A court hearing is also time-consuming and expensive, which is why an inheritance solicitor will always endeavour to settle and come to an agreement beforehand in order to avoid the need to go to court.

A written affidavit will also need to be submitted in advance of the hearing.

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