Can You Dispute a Will? Yes, and we’ll show you how

Can you dispute a will? Get in touch to find out. Because the solicitors we work with are experts at contesting wills.

Who has the right to contest a will? You!

OK, maybe it’s not quite that simple. But, if you’re thinking about contesting a will on a No Win, No Fee basis, there are a lot of things you need to be aware of if you are going to be successful. We outline the various things you will need to keep in mind. It will ultimately answer the question: Can you dispute a will, plus other questions like:

  • First, what, exactly, contesting a will costs?
  • Second, exactly who can contest a will in England and Wales.

Everything You Need to Know About Contesting a Will

So we’re going to answer all questions about making a few critical assumptions here.

  1. First, let’s assume the testator made a will.
  2. Next, the will is valid legally and not subject to intestacy law.
  3. Finally, let’s also conclude that the will has been given without a lack of testamentary capacity.*
Can you dispute a will?

Given the above, it’s first important to ensure that you have the legal right to bring a claim to contest the will. In short, claims under The Inheritance Act details who specifically can and cannot contest a will. Moreover, those who can legally challenge a will include the following.

  • Direct family members, including children or grandchildren.
  • Spouses.***
  • Beneficiaries (given that the previous Will includes their name).
  • A person who relies on the testator financially.
  • A creditor to whom the testator owes money.
  • The testator promises a particular item/asset to someone, but that promise is not part of the will.

In essence, being part of the family and friends will help. In summary, here are the critical things to know ‘Can you dispute a will?’

  • If anyone believes the will is not legally valid, it’s their right to challenge it.
  • However, only those people we list above can challenge how the estate is split up.

On this point, the ‘estate’ is not simply any property the leaver owns. It also includes other aspects.

  • For instance, their possessions would be one bit of property in question.
  • Also, the contents of their bank accounts, building society and/or savings accounts.
  • Don’t forget about any investments (ISAs, premium bonds, etc).
  • Finally, any land they possess at the time of death.
What are the grounds for contesting a will on a No Win, No Fee basis?

Firstly, what happens when contesting a will in England and Wales is that probate stops. This means that you have time to prove either the will is invalid, or that your claim is actually larger. Valid reasons, or grounds for contesting the will, include those below.

  • Notably, if the testator was not in their right mind when they sign the last Will.
  • Along similar lines, they were unaware of what they were signing.
  • Alternatively, the will was drawn up incorrectly or is completing without valid co-signing witnesses present.
  • Forgery of the signature(s), which requires handwriting expert to prove.
  • The beneficiaries have a right to the estate. Yet there is either no naming of them, or the caring for them is inadequate.
Avoid the DIY will

To be perfectly clear, we would always advise that it’s best to avoid a ‘DIY will’. It’s risky and can help avoid contentious probate battles.

Additionally, under no circumstances should you have someone you want to name as a beneficiary help you to draw up your will. That would lead to suspicions that your Will is subject to undue influence. To meet those parameters, a fraudulent beneficiary may do one or both of the following.

  • They coerce or pressure them into naming them as a beneficiary.
  • Alternatively, undue pressure earns them a greater share of your estate than they deserve.

A losing party may result from this. We advise that in order to know if you can dispute a will, you should hire The Inheritance Experts

Do solicitors keep copies of wills?

Yes, they do. In fact, it is best to use a professional will storage service. This will protect and preserve the legal document. When contesting a will on a No Win, No Fee basis, it’s part of what we do.

Is there a time limit to contesting a will on a No Win, No Fee basis?

Generally speaking, you have up until:

  • They grant an executor, and;
  • The executor begins distributing assets according to their Final Will and Testament.

In turn, that brings us to the issue of legal costs. It can be very difficult regarding contesting a will costs after distribution occurs. However, it is possible to make a claim after probate. Ideally, to determine can you dispute a will after distribution, you need to make your claim as soon as possible.

How long does contesting a will take?

Contesting a will takes a long time, especially as the best way to resolve this issue is through mediation. If mediation and dispute resolution doesn’t work, the case may go before a court. Subsequently, it can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to complete.

This issue faces complications if, for instance, a beneficiary dies before the testator the person. In this case, their inheritance becomes part of their own estate. This would mean, in order to contest their claim, you would need to block two wills.

What are the contesting a will costs?

This is the biggest element on knowing if you can dispute a will. The answer to who will pay the costs is two-fold.

  • Firstly, those who are in a position to pay a substantial sum in legal fees.
  • The better choice is clearly for those using our Contesting a Will No Win, No Fee basis of a fee agreement.
  • We can also procure legal expenses insurance for you. It’s a financial provision covering you in the case that your type of claim doesn’t win, wherein you can pay the defendant’s legal fees.

Contesting a will costs may be as high as £100,000. Accordingly, this is why mediation and fast dispute resolution suits all parties caught up in the process.

Can someone contest a will on behalf of someone else?

In short, yes: someone can definitely contest a will on behalf of another party. This is the case primarily when you’re contesting on behalf of either a minor or those who are simply unable to contest it themselves.

To avoid fraud, the parties acting as guardians cannot be exerting undue influence. In essence, the minor cannot be subject to undue influence in the proceedings. It’s especially helpful if you’re contesting a will on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Can you contest a will after probate has been issued?

Yes. Probate court is there to prove the validity of the will, rather than the claims of the beneficiaries. Similarly, the validity of the will can be brought into question if:

  • benefits are shown to be a result of fraudulent activity, or;
  • fraud is even under suspicion.

In short, you won’t seek at this stage to prevent a grant of probate. Instead, this stage is all about disputing a will after the issuance of probate.

Can I contest a will if I am an executor?

You can contest a trust or will if you are the executor. One can name executors as beneficiaries in the will. If you do, however, you will first need to take care of two critical things.

  • First: you need to do it within six months of the grant of probate.
  • Second: ideally, you need to do it before you take on any of the duties the job expects of you.

In this situation, you will want to renounce your role as executor as this can be seen as a conflict of interest.

How can I contest a will on the basis of mental capacity?

A mental capacity will contest is one of the stronger cases you can make for contesting a will. Accordingly, that’s because when you do, there is strong evidence the testator was not mentally well when the last will was made.

If they were suffering from dementia, for example. Accordingly, one can make a case that the last will is invalid. In this case, the previous Last Will and Testament would instead be the valid Will.

I am an executor of a will someone is contesting. What should I do?

The role of the executor is to divide the estate as per the deceased’s wishes.

You can and should hire a legal advisor to help you accurately manage this process. That’s especially if one of the beneficiaries contests the will or if there are confusing assets, such as a joint bank account.

Will I have to go to court if I contest a will?

Though the goal is to settle the matter out of court, that is not always the outcome. Contesting a will on a No Win, No Fee basis, the law firms we work with are the best at working to settle these matters without the need to go to court. However, they’re also more than capable of progressing matters if court proceedings become necessary.

What are the steps to contesting a will on a No Win, No Fee basis?

There are a few parameters you must meet before you contest a will:

  1. Firstly, you have the legal right to contest the will.
  2. Secondly, you have a valid reason for contesting the will.
  3. Third, you’ve made this contesting of the will before the time limit has run out.
  4. Finally, you must raise sufficient evidence that supports your claim.

Once you’ve met these parameters, you’ll want to contact inheritance specialists as soon as possible. This way the contest can ideally be made before probate. Probate, therefore, means that the will has been proven to be valid.

What is the role of your solicitor?

Your solicitor will work with you so that you understand all areas of the law.

That’s true whether you are in England or Wales, or are contesting a will in Scotland, where the rules are slightly different. One of the first steps to doing this is to apply for a copy of the death certificate so that you can get the legal information like name and last permanent address from the testator.

Your solicitor will work with you to build up a strong case in your favour. The process will then move to mediation, and, failing that, the courts.

Get in touch with one of our inheritance experts, so that we can help you build a solid case. We can even help if you are an executor who is managing an estate subject to contest. Similarly, we’ll help you understand Inheritance Tax and other financial affairs regarding the estate. Regardless of which side you are on when contesting a will in England or Wales, our services help you fight for the fairest outcome.

To get seek legal advice in contesting a will or other estate planning matters, contact us today.

Further Reading: Changing A Will After Death.

*Ergo, we can assume the person giving the will is of sound mind and body. This stems from the cases of Spiers v English 1907

**Please note that there are exceptions to this. In the case of fraud, for example, where there is no limit. However, by making the claim at the earliest opportunity, you can increase the chances of successfully contesting a will.

***This holds true, regardless of if they are separate from or still with them at the time of their death.

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