Losing a family member leads to a very distressing time. Particularly if you then find out that you have been left out of their will. Challenging a will, hence, takes that level of distress even higher.
Therefore, this may mean that you will need to contest their last will and testament. Here are some of the main queries you may have when it comes to challenging a will.
Who Can Challenge a Will?
- Blood relatives. These are the people most likely to contest a will.
- A spouse. This is true regardless of whether they are still in marriage to or split from the testator. If the marriage to the testator remains intact, they have the right to challenge the will.
- A creditor. This is if the testator’s estate owes a creditor money.
- A beneficiary. This can be someone in an earlier will.
- An individual who relies on the testator. This can be through financial support or accommodation.
- An individual who receives a promise to an item. This could be a verbal or written agreement between the testator and the individual. Then, a challenge can be made if the agreement wasn’t set in the will.
Why Might Someone Be Challenging a Will?
There are a variety of reasons, both legal and personal, why someone is challenging a will.
For example, a person might contest a will if they feel that they receive unfair treatment. Therefore, they would be challenging the will as a matter of principle. As part of this, they may also feel that they know the testator’s intentions. More importantly, they feel as though the will doesn’t speak adequately enough to those intentions.
In order to prove this, the person would need to show that they had a close relationship with the testator. Again, this can be shown in a variety of ways. For example. the two are in a marriage, or a long-term relationship and cohabitation.
The legal grounds for contesting a will, meanwhile, are as follows:
- The will is invalid. For example, incorrectly made or doesn’t have signatures in the presence of two independent co-signing witnesses.
- The writer of the will isn’t mentally fit enough to be signing a legal document.
- The document or signature was forged. However, this can be very hard to prove.
- The writer of the will faces pressure/coercion into creating the will or changing an existing will.
- The will doesn’t adequately provide for those who were financially dependent upon the testator.
What Exactly Happens When You’re Challenging a Will?
In the first instance, check that the person contesting the will has the right to do so. If so, proceedings will begin for negotiation and mediation. The solicitor will seek an agreement which benefits all parties involved, in the quickest time possible and with minimal financial expenditure.
However, the best intentions of any legal parties and individuals might fall short. In fact, it may be impossible to come to an agreement during the mediation stage.
If this is the case, the issue will then be taken a step further to court, and you will adhere to a court hearing. This could include a wait of at least 12 months before an official court date, therefore this avenue is particularly time-consuming and expensive.
An affidavit will need to prepare in advance of the hearing. Moreover, a court will hear the argument and come to a resolution.
How we can help
If you are considering contesting a will, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. At The Inheritance Experts, we help people who want to contest a will or trust get what is rightfully theirs.
When you call us, one of our advisors will chat through the particular circumstances of your potential claim and advise whether you may have grounds for a claim. This is done on a free, no-obligation basis.
If you proceed with your claim, we’ll match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances. Your solicitor will then collect any evidence and will begin negotiating with the other side.
If you are thinking of challenging a will and would like to know if you have grounds for a valid claim, don’t hesitate. Contact The Inheritance Experts by filling in the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.