The majority of wills and estates receive proper managerial touch and execution. In essence, wills (according to the law) stipulate exactly what the late party wants to happen to the various parts of their estate. However, legitimate will disputes are a reality of handing out the contents of an estate.
Accordingly, a will can be improper occasionally. Alternatively, reasonable suspicions could occur alleging legitimate will disputes.
- For instance, someone may face accusations of tampering with the will.
- Also, the will is allegedly not legitimate.
- Possibly, the deceased dealt with pressure to write the will in a certain unfair manner to their beneficiaries.
Therefore, there can be a number of legitimate will disputes. It is also worth remembering that, in the majority of cases, there is a six-month period where any disputes must be filed, although there are different timescales depending on your reasons for disputing a will.
In this guide, we will outline three of the main reasons why a will dispute may occur.
Legitimate Will Disputes
1. An invalid will
There are strict guidelines in place that cover the legal and procedural requirements of a legally binding will. One of the more common will dispute cases stem from claimants who believe that the will is invalid.
Reasons why a will can be invalid include:
- Non-execution of will. The Wills Act of 1837 sets out the specific legal guidelines for a will. If the document has any legal errors, challenges may arise to declare a will invalid. One of the most common instances of this is a lack of signatures from the relevant witnesses and the testator.
- Fraud and Duress. In essence, a claimant believes that a will has been drawn up under duress. Alternatively, allegations regarding instances of fraud in the final will also apply. In either case, claimants can make a claim to invalidate the will.
- Testamentary Capacity. In short, anyone making a will must be mentally capable of doing so. This will include understanding the implications of the will that they sign. The expression ‘sound mind’ or ‘sufficient mental capacity’ are also common in this instance.
If you want to dispute the validity of a will, you must provide evidence to support the claim. Regarding testamentary capacity, it’s up to the estate executors to establish the testator’s mental capacity. If the will is declared invalid, then the rules of intestacy take effect.
2. Claims of dependency
The Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975 covers those instances where a dependent has not received sufficient provisions in the will. For instance, consider if the testator was providing for someone financially up until their death. In that situation, it’s possible to claim that this financial providence must continue after they have died.
In most dependency claims, the claimant is a spouse, a child, a cohabitee or a close family member or friend. Courts will consider several factors.
- Firstly, the age of dependents.
- Next, the duration and nature of the relationship with the deceased
- Finally, their expected quality of life if the testator were still alive.
Courts may then award a lump sum or a series of maintenance payments.
3. Additional legitimate will disputes
If the above factors are not relevant, a will can still be changed if a claimant believes that an original will has been lost, or if property and finances have been disputed by another potential owner. These instances will require the claimant to provide evidence to start their claim.
How we can help
It is essential that you seek legal representation from a solicitor who specialises in will disputes as early as possible. Because time limits apply (depending on the type of dispute that you wish to make), the earlier that you begin the process, the more likely that you avoid unnecessary complications to the process.
At The Inheritance Experts, we work with specialist law firms who have a proven track record in helping people when they want to dispute a loved one’s will. 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.