Do you know what evidence is needed when contesting a will of a family member?
When a family member dies, it’s often a difficult grieving period for everyone who was close to them. Unfortunately, surprises in the testator’s will can cause more upset during this time. Often, some people find there are suspicious circumstances surrounding it.
No matter why you want to contest a will, you need proof to see a successful claim go through. It helps to know exactly what evidence is needed to contest a will.
So instead of searching for it, stick around and take note of these important steps.
Establishing your grounds to show what evidence is needed to contest a will
Knowing what legal grounds you stand on helps you determine if you can even contest a will in the first place. So let’s say that do meet the grounds to contest a will. Knowing the reason why you are doing it also enables you to streamline how you collect evidence. Here are some of the most common grounds to contest with.
The testator lacks the mental capacity to write the will
For example, if they were experiencing psychosis due to a mental health disorder.
They did not understand or approve the content of the will
Those hard of hearing, eyesight, or who dictate that someone else sign the will fall under this bracket.
Undue influence from another party
These grounds apply to when the testator faces consequential pressure to write their will a certain way.
The will doesn’t reflect a testator’s true intent
Accordingly, this is for circumstances where a will does not truly reflect the testator’s intentions.
Simply put, fraudulence is when benefits go to someone as a result of fraud. Moreover, you can challenge if fraud is even under suspicion, thus bringing the will itself into question.
Execution of the will violate the Wills Act 1837
Specifically, section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 is under violation in this scenario. As a result, the will becomes invalid and the estate passes under the statutory rules of intestacy.
Vital evidence to collect
Depending on which grounds you follow to contest the will, you’ll need specific evidence to back up your claims. One of the best examples is when you are contesting a will.* In this case, you will need to heavily rely on medical notes.
Those present at the time of drafting and signing the will are important to determine if a will is valid. This also includes those who may have known the testator well before their own death. Examples of witnesses include**:
- Solicitors who drew up the will.
- People who witness the signing of the will.
- Those, aside from medical professionals, who can attest to the testator’s state of mind during the signing of the will.
- Loved ones involved in taking care of the testator before they died.
- Anyone who believes they have knowledge of the testator’s previous intentions regarding their assets.
There may be written documents the testator had written which indicate something different from what was written in their will. If you find and verify such documents, they could offer valuable insight into what their true intentions were.
It could be that you find a journal entry which speaks of any undue pressure they experience to change it. Also, seek out any letters written to someone expressing their sincere wishes.
As we say, medical notes are important pieces of evidence. They can prove whether or not a person was in sound mind when creating their will.
Yet, they are also a testament to the testator’s health, age, and any disabilities that may impair their ability to make a sensible decision. Collect them from doctors or other medical professionals around in the time before the testator passes. Moreover, be sure to include notes showing which kinds of medications they may have been taking.
*This is because you trust that the testator lacks the requisite mental capacity to write it.
**But are not limited to.