Contesting a Will Time Limits

When it comes to contesting a Will, there are a few matters to think about. One of these is time limits. There are time limits to take into consideration when contesting a Will, and there is also the time it takes to do so.

Contesting A Will Time Limits

In general terms, you have until the executor is granted and they start to distribute the estate to contest a Will. There are exceptions to this rule, however. You may have longer to contest the Will if you are a beneficiary, for example, or if you believe there is fraudulent activity involved.

It is also possible to contest a Will after the executor has begun dividing the estate. The best way to determine this is by seeking legal advice as soon as possible.

There is also a time limit on making a claim after a person has passed away. This time limit is usually within 5 years of the person dying, but there may also be exceptions to this.

Contesting Probate Time Limits

Under The Inheritance Act, you only have six months to contest a Will after probate has been granted. A Grant of Probate is a legal document that clarifies the Executor of a Will, and confirms they have legal right to deal with the Estate. This means it is important to make your claim as soon as possible. If you can, it is best to make a claim before probate has been issued.

If you are one of the beneficiaries of the Will, you have 12 months to make a claim. There is no statutory time limit for probate disputes that involve fraud. These can include if the person who made the Will was not of sound mind, or they made their Will under influence.

If these time limits pass, it may still be possible to make a claim under The Inheritance Act. You must contact the court so they can grant permission for you to do this.

How Long does it take to Contest a Will?

There are several stages to contesting a Will, so it can be a lengthy process. The first stage is mediation, where the parties will try and come to an agreement. Mediation is almost always the most effective way to handle Will disputes, and the parties can usually come to an agreement.

If mediation does not work, the case may need to go to court. This will also lengthen the process, so solicitors always recommend mediation first.

There can also be other complications that lengthen the process, such as if a beneficiary dies before the testator of the original Will. In this case, their inheritance would become part of their own estate. This means that you would need to contest both Wills.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of claims. This includes contesting a Will, contesting Probate, and making claims under The Inheritance Act. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

Mental Capacity and Contesting A Will

For a Will to be legally valid, the person must have the required mental capacity at the time of writing. This is also known as being of sound mind. It is important for the person to be of sound mind to ensure that all of their wishes are carried out the way they want them to be.

Mental capacity and contesting a Will go hand in hand, as, if the person did not have the mental capacity to make their Will, then it is one of the stronger reasons to contest the Will. If you believe that they did not have the mental capacity to make or change their Will, then you may be able to contest the Will.

What is Mental Capacity?

Mental capacity, also known as testamentary capacity, means that the person must have the mental ability to understand what they are doing. They must also understand the impact that this will have on their estate and beneficiaries.

Because a lot of people make or change their Will later in life, they can have problems with mental capacity. It can be affected by many conditions and injuries.

Mental Capacity Examples

One of the most common diseases that may affect a person’s mental capacity is Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s Disease is known to affect the brain, and memory. So if a loved one was suffering Alzheimer’s, there is a chance that they may not have been of sound mind when the Will was written. Another example of a condition that may affect a person’s mental capacity is Dementia. If they were suffering from dementia, for example, you may be able to make a case that the last will is invalid.

Injuries can also affect a person’s mental capacity. Examples of this include brain injuries, which can happen at any point in someone’s life. Serious injuries can also affect mental capacity, as can mental illness.

Mental Capacity and Contesting A Will

There are a few reasons you may be able to contest a Will based on the person lacking mental capacity. These include:

  • If the Will contradicts earlier promises or agreements
  • The Will does not accurately reflect the deceased’s wishes
  • It does not provide for those expected, such as grandchildren
  • You know the deceased was suffering from a condition such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia

A mental capacity will contest is one of the stronger cases you can make for contesting a will. This is because when you do, there can be evidence they were not mentally well when the last will was made. In this case, the previous Last Will and Testament would instead be the valid Will.

To prove that the deceased lacked mental capacity when making their Will, a solicitor will get their medical records. They will then work with a medical expert. The medical expert can help determine the state of mind that the person was in when they made or changed their Will. This will help in contesting the Will.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with all manner of inheritance claims. This includes contesting a Will based on mental capacity. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

George Michael: Ex is Reportedly Suing His Estate

A recent report by The Mirror states that Kenny Goss, the ex of George Michael is suing his estate. He states that he did not believe George was of sound mind when he made his last will in 2013. He also states that, because he was financially dependent on George for the 13 years they were together, that provisions should have been made for him in the star’s will. If you have experienced something similar, then you may be able to make a claim.

George Michael Case: Mental capacity

Goss states that he believes George Michael lacked mental capacity when writing his last will. Sadly, this case is all too common nowadays, with the rise in diseases such as Dementia. Due to this, there are often cases where the person may not have had the mental capacity to write a will. If you have experienced something similar, then you may be able to make a claim.

We have written before about legitimate will disputes. Contesting a will based on lack of mental capacity is one of the cases you can make. This is important if there is strong evidence that the person was not mentally well enough when the last will was made. In this case, the previous will would be the valid one. In the example of George Michael, as with others, the will may be invalid.

However, you must provide proof that the person was not of sound mind, or lacked the mental capacity. So we recommend that you contact us to see if you are able to make a claim.

George Michael Case: Financial dependence

There are also provisions that can be made in a will to those who are financially dependent on the deceased. In the George Michael example, Goss is claiming that he was financially dependent on the star during their time together. Because of this, he believes provisions should have been made in the will for him.

Under The Provision for Family and Dependants Act, people who are financially dependent on the deceased may be able to make a claim if they were left out of the will. Certain factors will be taken into consideration, these are:

  • The age of the dependents
  • The nature and duration of the relationship with the deceased
  • Their expected quality of life if the person were still alive

In the case of George Michael’s ex, he can argue that, because George provided for him financially when they were together, that this provision should continue. He also states that and that he gave up his career to look after George during their relationship. If you were financially dependent on someone, and they passed away not leaving adequate funds for you, which you need, then you may also be able to make a claim.

How We Can Help

Here at The Inheritance Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience in dealing with Inheritance claims. This includes claims where the person did not have the mental capacity to make a will. It also includes claims for dependents. Therefore, this means that they are extremely well placed to help you claim the compensation you may be entitled to. Contact us today by filling in our contact form, or by calling us on 01614138763 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable advisors.

The Role of Mediation in Contesting A Will

Mediation is a very important tool in inheritance cases. Due to the sensitive nature of a lot of cases involving inheritance, it provides a level of care in what can sometimes lead to a very messy situation.

What is mediation?

Mediation is defined as intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it. In legal cases, it is a procedure in which the parties discuss their disputes with a trained impartial third party, who assists them in coming to an agreement, or settlement. This often happens out of court and therefore can make the process of contesting a will much swifter. It is also less formal than a court setting, which can be daunting.

What are the benefits?

  • Cost- The process of mediation still involves costs, including solicitors and mediators’ fees. These costs, however, are very likely to be significantly lower than the cost of going to trial.
  • Time- you can start mediation at any point during the proceedings. It happens out of court, meaning that it can save the time it takes to go through a trial.
  • Effectiveness- mediation is effective in 80% of cases.
  • Control- in mediation, the parties involved have more control in the outcome of a case. The main part of mediation is negotiation, whereas in court, this will be decided by a judge.
  • Confidentiality- The discussions involved in mediation are completely confidential. This does not happen in a court, and the settlement agreement will include a confidentiality clause. This keeps the terms of the settlement confidential.
  • Preserving relationships- in inheritance cases, you are far more likely to have a personal relationship with the other parties, or at least know them. As mediation is a means of negotiation, you are far more likely to be able to keep a relationship with the other people involved.

The process of mediation

The process can be as short as half a day. The parties involved agree on an independent mediator and venue in which to have the mediation. At the mediation, each party usually has their own room, where they discuss their views. The mediator will then go between the two to discuss what the other has said. The mediator will then work with the parties to come to an agreement that is suitable for all involved.

If the parties fail to come to an agreement during the mediation, then neither party can bring anything forward to the court case. It is free from prejudice, and the mediator will not discuss anything with the other party that they have not been authorised to say.

Mediation is less stressful than a court case. It allows you to voice your opinion and be heard, but in a less formal environment than a court room. Will cases particularly suit this method, as the parties discuss subjects that are sensitive. While there is more of an element of compromise, you will usually receive a settlement that is more favourable than one you would receive in a court. You will also be more actively involved in the settlement that you get.

We know that mediation may not always work, and some cases will end up having to go to court. The solicitors we work with are experts in settling matters both in and out of court. Contact us today by filling in the form or calling us on 0161 413 8763 to speak with one of our friendly expert advisors about your potential claim.

Video Will Witness Practices are Now Legal

It’s now official: a witness to the signing of someone’s Will by video is now acceptable. A video will witness (two of them, specifically) becomes acceptable to make a will valid in England and Wales.

Valid with a backdate of 31 January 2020, the ruling carries on for at least two years. That particular date is significant in Covid-19 trace history: it represents the first confirmed coronavirus case in the UK. 

The video will witness news comes amidst an effort to limit the necessity of in-person witnessing of wills due to social distancing precautions. Before that date, the will would by law be invalid if witnesses were not physically present.

A Pandemic-led Response

But such is another casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, any wills witnessed remotely via video link are legitimate in England and Wales. In turn, this makes it easier for people to record their final wishes during the pandemic.

Reports show the law will be in effect until January 2022, thus reducing the potential complications Covid-19 presents to inheritance matters. For instance, the ruling can minimise estate backlogs or reduce the number of occasions where a will is not formalised. Older populations throughout the UK and the world alike are at risk due to the disease. Accordingly, Will & Testament complications may also avoid a sudden spike.

Government has deemed legal this turn to video legality by amendment of the Wills Act 1837. 

Certain Specifics of Video Will Witness Laws

Below are some of the more notable bits from Guidance on making wills using video conferencing. The guidance went live 25 July 2020 and is on offer from authors at the Ministry of Justice.

Exceptions to this ruling in England and Wales

Video conferencing witnessing will apply to wills made since 31 January 2020, but with two significant exceptions.

First, any cases where the issuance of the Grant of Probate in respect of the deceased person (testator) occurs.

Second, any cases where the application is already going through the administration process.

Video Will Witness practices are a temporary addition to the Wills Act 1837

The Guidance makes clear that the video conferencing witness validity is the only significant change to the nearly 200-year-old legislation. Moreover, it takes space to mention specific things that remain true about carrying out a valid will.

For example, a testator still must have ‘testamentary capacity’ (i.e. know what they are doing and can effectively express their true intentions). Also, however the witnessing of the signing occurs, you still officially need two witnesses of that signing. Plus, witnesses must still either sign the will or acknowledge their signature of the will in the presence of the testator.

Coupled with January 2022 end date, the rule is also only temporary in nature as a response to social distancing and self-isolation measures.

The Head and Shoulders Rule

For the duration of this add-on, a view of the actual signing itself is critical. From the Guidance:

Before signing, the will-maker should ensure that the witnesses can see them actually writing their signature on the will, not just their head and shoulders.

The Clear Line of Sight Rule

In addition to video will witness, the Guidance also lays out three other scenarios wherein wills can become witnessed and valid. Included in these are:

  1. Through a window or open door of a house or a vehicle.
  2. Additionally, from a corridor or adjacent room into a room with a door open.
  3. Also, in the outdoors from a short distance (for example, a garden).

Additionally, the ruling states there must exist a clear line of sight for the witnesses of the will-maker signing the will. These are meant to denote acceptable safety precautions for will witnessing in a social distancing world.

Video and Audio Must be of Sound Quality

Difficulties with video connections become common in a remote society, unfortunately. The Guidance also is aware of how this can go haywire. Ministers advise that all parties ensure video and audio quality broadcasts a clear understanding that a will signing occurs.

Treat this as a Last Resort

The Ministry of Justice, however, encourages that people continue to arrange physical witnessing of wills. The case in the UK, with this temporary measure, allows video-link witnessing but hopes it will remain a last resort.

What insiders are saying about the video will witness

Justice secretary Robert Buckland told The Independent: “We know that the pandemic has made this process more difficult. Which is why we are changing the law to ensure that wills witnessed via video technology are legally recognised.”

“Our measures will give peace of mind to many that their last wishes can still be recorded during this challenging time while continuing to protect the elderly and vulnerable.”

Rob Cope is the director of Remember A Charity. He tells Civil Society’s Val Cipriani that charities, in particular, could benefit significantly from the news. Moreover, it could lead to an increase in will writing.

“Ultimately, the more people that write a will, the greater the potential for including a charitable donation,” he says. “Even a small increase in the proportion of people leaving a gift in their will could generate millions for good causes each year.”

Inheritance Act Claims: Who Can Make Them?

There have been many government provisions for England and Wales that enable people to make Inheritance Act Claims. To bring a claim, a grant of probate means that only certain parties will fit within the circumstances of the case for compensation.

Below, we list some of the leading laws governing inheritance provision for the family. We’ll then turn briefly to who specifically can make a claim under the inheritance laws.

Critical Inheritance Acts Over The Years

Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

This is the coup de graçe of all provisions regarding inheritance rights and claims. It attaches not just monetary assets as provisions of the deceased’s estate, but also any property and holdings.

Moreover, this can even include holdings disposed of in the six years prior to death.

Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938

The 1975 act is an update of the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938. The 1938 version effectively establishes persons that can apply to the court for financial provision. In essence, the Act states the following.

Without overruling the terms of the will, it gave the surviving spouse and the dependent children the right to apply to the court for maintenance out of a deceased person’s estate.

Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014

Time coupled with changing mores brought the law’s appreciation for modern family structures. The 2014 Act addresses matters equalising the rights of both a spouse/civil partner of the deceased to make a claim. It also tackles what had been more absolute rights of the spouse to the first £270,000 of an estate plus personal belongings.

Additionally, a child of the deceased gains additional rights to financial resources as a beneficiary of the estate. Now, the child does not need to enter into the parent/child relationship as a result of marriage.

Administration of Estates Act 1925

From the 1925 Act came many of the succeeding acts and amendments to modernise the law, too. Personal property (aka “Chattels real”) was finally coupled with real estate in the estate’s size and nature.

Here’s a relevant side note: This law repeals up to 12 different acts regarding estate circulation.

Who Can Make Inheritance Act Claims By Law?

According to the Inheritance Act 1975, certain people can offer claims according to their own personal obligations and responsibilities. These people are:

  • A spouse/civil partner of the deceased.
  • A former spouse/civil partner.
  • Children of the deceased, including children or adoption or those reasonably brought into a family.
  • Financial dependants of the deceased.
  • In certain cases, cohabitees, who nevertheless must meet certain criteria.

From spouses to children, many financial dependents can make inheritance act claims against a will

How Courts Review Inheritance Act Claims

In many circumstances, claims under The Inheritance Act can be resolved by mediation. Working together with all parties, you may not have to go to court.

That said, it’s not always true that your claim will avoid the court system. Accordingly, one question we often receive is about the procedure for inheritance act claims.

Basically, when someone makes these claims, there are several factors (aka Section 3 Factors) the court will weigh and judge.

  • First off, the court considers the claimant’s financial needs in both the present and foreseeable future.
  • Next, the court weighs the financial needs that any other claimant might have.
  • Additionally, they’ll look at the financial needs of any beneficiary of the estate.
  • Specifically, any financial obligations the late party had to any claimant/beneficiary under The Inheritance Act.
  • Another considerable factor is the size and nature of the estate left behind.
  • Not to mention, any eligible claimant/beneficiary who has a physical or mental disability.
  • Some other matters can become relevant. These include any so-called relevant behaviour(s) and conduct of the claimant or any other person.

Is There A Time Limit On Making Inheritance Act Claims?

Specifically, you have six months after the Grant of Representation (i.e. Grant of Probate) to make an Inheritance Act Claim.

Uniquely, it’s not out of the question that when this limit expires you cannot make a claim. First, you need to contact the court, who furthermore must grant your right to make such a claim. Of course, it’s much easier to stay within the half-year window and remove all doubt.

Speak With The Inheritance Experts

Speak today with one of our inheritance experts: we can help you build a solid inheritance act claims case. We can even help if you are an executor who is managing an estate under contest. Similarly, we understand Inheritance Tax and other financial affairs associated with the estate. For more on contesting a will and Inheritance Act claims, read about:

The Process of Contesting a Will: Some Key Points

The process of contesting a will in England and Wales demands that you take several things into account. Namely, you need to take stock at the early stages to understand if the will is valid legally.

You’ll also need to check your own capabilities in handling potentially contentious probate. It won’t be easy with siblings, children, loved ones and all other parties added into the process. Furthermore, you’ll get into the weeds of some rather difficult issues.

  • Checking medical records of others (including the deceased party).
  • Investigating potential actions of undue influence.
  • Alternatively, understanding of what life looks like as a losing party after contesting a will.

Admittedly we have some bias on the matter of what kind of solicitors you should turn to. However, a no-win, no fee Inheritance Experts solicitor specialising in probate registry challenges definitely helps. Below, we’ll walk through elements of the process of contesting a will.

The importance of The Inheritance Act of 1975

For the sake of clarity, the above law’s long name is the Inheritance Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975. In short, the Act is one of the most important legal documents pertaining to the process. The main thrust: stipulating the validity of a person to bring a claim against an estate.

Notably, as The Gazette puts it in challenging the myths of this law:

“the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 makes provision for a court to alter the distribution of the estate of a deceased person. …To any spouse, former spouse, child, child of the family or dependant of that person. …In cases where the deceased person’s will or the rules of intestacy fail to make ‘reasonable financial provision’.”

If the process goes forth, a claimant alleges the will didn’t make a reasonable financial provision for them. More recently, amendments to the law now account for the rights of civil partners in the process.

So who can undertake the process of contesting a will?

To summarise who has access to make a claim, take note of the following categories below.

  1. Firstly, direct family members, including children or grandchildren.
  2. Secondly, a spouse or civil partner can challenge a will.
  3. Any beneficiaries (for this to occur, a previous will must specifically name the beneficiary in question).
  4. Any person reliant on the deceased financially.
  5. A person who expects an item by the late party, but the stipulation doesn’t show up in the will.
  6. There’s also the matter that any creditor that the late party still owes money to is part of the process.

Essentially, being part of the family, being an ongoing beneficiary, or even a friend clearly helps your case.

The Process of Contesting a Will is considerable

What parameters allow you to enter the process of contesting a will?

Here, we’re going to address the four parameters you must meet before you contest a will.

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

Which begs the question: have you met any of these requirements? If so, contact our inheritance specialists as soon as possible. In turn, you can make a challenge before the grant of probate. Probate, remember, means that the will has been proven to be valid.

Some of you will surely ask, What about contesting a will after probate? Yes: it can, and we address it on our Contesting a Will page.

How a solicitor helps you in the process of contesting a will

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

One of the first steps to doing this is to apply for a copy of the death certificate. With that, you’ll have critical legal document information like name and last permanent address for the deceased.

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

What legal grounds allow you to contest a will?

The readers of our blog will note that we’ve written previously in Do I Have the Legal Right to Dispute a Will? Below, we share several legal grounds for contesting a will.

No valid execution of the will

If certain formalities are not met, a will may become invalid. Some include:

  • It needs to be in writing (typed or handwritten)
  • Additionally, it has the signature of one of two parties.
    • Ideally, the testator his or herself, although this may not always be possible.
    • Alternatively, another person signs the will in the testator’s presence (complete with his/her direction).
  • Moreover, when the testator signs the will, they truly want it to take effect.
  • Ultimately, these actions occur in the presence of a minimum of two witnesses.*

No knowledge or approval of the will

This reinforces the above scenario about the need for multiple witnesses.

Undue influence

Accordingly, you can challenge the will over undue influence. The fact is, some parties may exert undue influence over a vulnerable testator. If they’re not sound of mind, this can be an especially sensible set of grounds for a challenge.


Intention is critical when ruling for revocation of the will.

Effectively, a will is invalid if the destruction of the will occurs. There are two key factors in proving this with your challenge.

  • First, either the testator or someone in their presence and at their direction destroys the will.
  • Additionally, those above parties – in destroying the will – do so in order to revoke the will.

Lack of testamentary capacity

Effectively, this means the will was created and/or amended when the testator was not of sound mind or mental capacity. The issue often arises in cases where Alzheimer’s Disease becomes a factor for the testator. Such a will could be subject to unintended influence.

Above all, it’s critical that you have the evidence to prove a lack of testamentary capacity.

If you seek legal advice to challenge a will, contact The Inheritance Experts today.

More about Will disputes

We offer a wealth of insights here on this blog regarding will disputes and inheritance challenges.

*Additionally, the will must be both signed and witnessed by those parties.

Key Terms to Know For a Family Dispute Over Will

A family dispute over wills exacerbates what’s already a difficult period of time for any family. Throw the struggle amongst siblings and extended family members over the legitimacy of a legal document aside. Above all, there’s the added pressure of the loss of a valued loved one. 

In time, you’ve got a recipe for family business disaster. Just tack on a few ingredients: 

  • First off: money.
  • Then add on real estate.
  • Not to mention the additional non-family parties involved in probate.
  • Some sibling disputes always give the recipe a bit of zest.
  • Finally, the intricacies of a blended family (where applicable).

So there are some questions you’ll undoubtedly have about the process of disputing a will. The one we aim to answer below is “What language are these lawyers speaking?”

Family Dispute Over Will Terminology Guidance

In this piece, our goal is to lay out the key players and common vocabulary involved in a will dispute. The Inheritance Experts know the subject inside and out. So treat this post as an A-to-Z guide of definitions for the personnel and terms involved in any probate.


Administrator / Estate executors

These are different, but they have relatively similar roles at the end of the day.

If no will exists or the will does not name an executor, an administrator will be appointed.

If a will does exist and such a person is appointed to administer the will’s intentions, that person is an estate executor(s). By designation, this person or these people are declared in the will by the deceased as the party best equipped to carry out the wishes of the deceased person.

An estate executor presents the will for probate to a judge. By law, funds and assets are frozen from disbursement amongst beneficiaries until a probate judge approves it.


This is the common area where sibling rivalry comes into play. In general, a beneficiary is any party or person in the will who becomes a recipient of assets or monies within the estate plan. 

Please note that this can include matters of sentimental (as opposed to monetary) value. For instance, assets such as a pet, figurine, rose bush or toy can fall into the designation of sentimental value.

As you can imagine, some beneficiaries aren’t going to be satisfied.

Discretionary beneficiaries

These are individuals or entities that a grantor names in a trust, life insurance policy, or retirement plan. What makes them different from regular beneficiaries is that they have no legal proprietary interest.

Estate Planning Attorney or Personal Representative

This is a specialist solicitor whose expertise lies in advising clients in planning their estate. As a result, these lawyers know the laws and intricacies surrounding the creation of a will.


A guardian is a person who can look after the interests of a child in estate matters. In Scotland, the age constituting the need for a guardian is 16; elsewhere in the UK, children are under 18 years old.


If a certain beneficiary is unable to hold property yet, a trustee will do it for them until they are permitted. Furthermore, the trustee is responsible for administering the trust assets.

Family Dispute Over Wills can get contentious - it helps to know the terminology and principles involved.

With a family dispute over wills, things can get contentious. So it helps to know the terminology and principles involved.


In the process of handling the family dispute over wills, there’s certain common vocabulary you’ll need to be aware of.


Assets, in short, consist of property owned by the person who died. These include a house, household goods, savings or investments. 

Bequest & Chargeable Gift

A bequest covers gifts disseminated in the will.

Chargeable gifts are similar but are so valuable as to require payment of an inheritance tax.


This is a document that has the power to amend (but to be clear, does not necessarily replace) a will. Because a codicil has the power to adversely affect a will, a re-write tends to be the more common course of action.

Grant of Probate

A grant of probate is an official legal document from the Court confirming that the will’s executor has the authority to act. In turn, this document validates a will and makes the distribution of the assets possible.

  • In Scotland, this document is a Confirmation of the Estate.

Inheritance tax

This is the tax monies payable when an estate exceeds the current inheritance threshold. As of 2020, this amount includes estates at or above £325,000.


In short, an estate becomes intestate when the person dies and they don’t subsequently leave a legally valid will.


A legacy applies to a specific gift or cash item left in a will (the rose bushes, for instance). Any property, however, cannot be a legacy gift.

  • A gift of money is a Pecuniary legacy.
  • When the legacy is a specific gift or object, it’s a Specific legacy.


This is a term that addresses the remaining balance of the estate after all payments have been made. In essence, these payments include funeral expenses, debts, legacies and any other taxes.

  • The party who is receiving the residue balance is a Residuary beneficiary.

About the Inheritance Experts and a Family Dispute Over Will

This post is part of our ongoing series covering issues about contesting a will and securing your inheritance. Our goal is to keep you informed on the latest issues and risks involved with disputing wills and probates.

Who Has Contesting a Will Rights?

If you are considering your contesting a Will rights, it is important to make sure that you are legally allowed to raise a dispute.

One of the main criteria for deciding if a person is entitled to contest a will is whether or not they belong to one of six defined groups that are considered to have the legal right to challenge a will or probate process.

In this guide, we will outline these six groups, along with some of the complex rules that define each group.

Family members

Whether you are related by marriage or by blood will play a factor in determining your right to contest a will. Those family members that are blood relations are in the Inheritance Act, together with a specific list that names relatives that can make a claim for declaring a will invalid.

Even if you aren’t a blood relative, your relationship with the testator will be taken into account. Moreover, you do have legal protection in those cases as well.

Understand contesting a Will rights in England or Wales? Learn more

Beneficiaries of contesting a Will Rights

As a beneficiary in a will, you have a legal entitlement to inherit your piece of the will. Consider two things that the executors of the will might not do.

  • First: what if they don’t pay you the sum the testator left to you?
  • Additionally, what if they don’t hand over any items the testator left to you in the will?

You’d have grounds to make a claim. This way, you ensure that you receive exactly what you deserve. By not executing the testator’s wishes as to the will states, it would be the case that the executor is acting unreasonably in their legal duties.

Furthermore, as a beneficiary, you can also dispute the division of the rest of the will. Especially if you consider the division of the deceased’s estate to be unreasonable.  It is worth remembering that, when considering a will, the ‘estate’ is not just property, but also entails the whole lot. All of the testator’s possessions, cash holdings, savings accounts or investments, and even the land they own.

Therefore, consider if you were in business with the testator as an equal partner. Next, the other business partners receive a greater share of the business than you were. Accordingly, you may feel that this is unfair and want to contest this.

Beneficiaries of earlier wills

As new people come into their lives, people do change their wills and will add these new people in. As a result, people previously in a will may be subject to removal. For example, if a person divorces and then remarries. It’s understandable that they would remove their ex-spouse from their will and replace them with their new spouse.

However, if you’re in an earlier version of a will but not the recent version, you can dispute the will. But only if you can prove that there is a valid reason why you should still be a beneficiary.

For example, say your ex-spouse pays you child maintenance to support the child(ren) you had together. But then the spouse dies, leaving you nothing in the will to help with the upbringing of your child(ren). Then it would be understandable that would want to contest their will.

With this example, any money or other part of their estate your ex-spouse leaves to your child(ren) belongs to them. Most likely, it goes into a trust until they reach adulthood. This money is not for you to use to raise them. You would need to make a separate application for the will to provide continued child maintenance payments.

In addition, this group could at times raise a dispute that causes a criminal investigation to commence.*

Creditors and contesting a Will rights

If you are someone the testator owes money to, you can claim this debt from the testator’s estate. If this is you, you should first try to have what is known as a Section 27 notice sent out. This can be a providence to help those the testator owes money to.

Broken Promises

Among contesting a will rights, this is a particularly major one.

Say you were relying on inheritance for your future that the testator says you’ll receive. As a result, you may be able to challenge that person’s will if they don’t follow through on that promise. You should know that this can be a complex area to dispute though. Therefore, seeking legal advice as early as possible is smart.

You’ll need to prove the promise was made, and that you’re suffering as a result of the promise being broken.

Financial dependents

Even if you are not related to the deceased, you may be able to to make a claim to their part of their estate if it can be shown that you were financially dependent upon the deceased, whether this was monetary or in the form of accommodation.

This group has protection under the Inheritance Act, so you will normally need to make this claim within six months of the probate date.

How we can help with contesting a will

If you fall under any of these categories, there is a chance that you may be able to successfully contest a will.

However, it’s essential that you take appropriate advice before contesting the will.

This is where The Inheritance Experts come in. Following your free, no-obligation discussion with us, we will transfer you to a specialist solicitor. Your solicitor is keen to challenge the will or probate process on your behalf given the circumstances of your claim. In turn, it helps you to get the share of the estate that you deserve.

If you are contesting a will you have not been named in or which you feel is unfair, do not hesitate to contact us via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

*Particularly if it can be shown that they have been taken out of a will due to fraud or a person wielding undue influence on the testator. Especially when they were not in a fit state to be making decisions about amendments to their will.

How to Contest a Will

If you are considering contesting the will of a relative, it is vital that you are aware of the processes before you start to contest it. That’s true whether you believe that

  • the will is unfair;
  • it isn’t legally valid, or;
  • the testator suffers from undue pressure into making certain people beneficiaries.

This guide will help you to navigate the often complex world of contesting probate.

Contesting a will or contesting the process of probate when a will is valid can only be done by certain people. These people include the testator’s

  • living relatives;
  • those who were a beneficiary in a previous will, and;
  • those with significant reason to believe they’re a beneficiary in the latest will. For instance, if a promise has been made to the person by the deceased.

In addition, a contest of probate must also fall under one of a few categories. These categories include:

It is also important to remember that the time limits for contesting probate are strict. Therefore, you should make sure that you contest the will or the probate process within six months in some cases. However, in some circumstances, there is no time limit as to when you can contest the will.

How to Contest a Will

Contacting a specialist solicitor

If you are considering contesting a will, it is important to find out whether you have a viable claim. This is where The inheritance Experts come in – one of our advisors will speak to you on a free, no-obligation basis and will advise you whether you have a valid claim that has a good chance of success depending upon the facts.

Finding Grounds and Evidence

So, you have a claim that potentially has a good chance of success and you choose to go forth. We’ll put you in touch with a specialist solicitor with experience in wills and probate cases. They’ll also have a track record in achieving positive results for their clients.

Together, you will collect any evidence that you need to make your case. Subsequently, your solicitor will advise you what the best grounds are to contest the will.


Once this is done, most solicitors will suggest mediation with the other beneficiaries. Often, this is the best possible first step to attempt to resolve the dispute.

During mediation, you will hold a discussion with the other beneficiaries. A third party without bias leads the discussion, helping you manage your disputes. This is with the aim of resolving any existing issues, any further issues that arise during the discussions and, ultimately, guiding all of the beneficiaries to a conclusion that everyone is happy with. In many cases, mediation will resolve the claim, and the case will not need to continue.

Going to Court

If there’s no resolution through mediation though, it will go to a probate court. There, a judge will balance the evidence and decide the merits of each beneficiaries’ claim. Also, they’ll consider the wishes the testator expresses in their will.

Going to court can be a long and costly process though, and you may not receive a result for a number of years if the judge is unable to make a decision. As we say, the case progressing to court is also extremely expensive. Moreover, if you lose, you may have to pay the other beneficiaries’ legal fees in full.

How to contest a will with our help

At The Inheritance Experts, we work with specialist law firms who have a proven track record in handling wills and probate disputes. This means they are well-placed to help you get the proportion of the estate you are entitled to.

If you believe you have grounds to contest a will and want to know if you have a realistic claim, do not hesitate to get in touch with The Inheritance Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

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