Why would you need to Challenge?
What is the process, the time limits, who can contest and what are the fees involved?
Let’s answer these questions.
There is often confusion around contesting a Will. In the majority of cases when a person dies the administration of their estate will be dealt with in line with the wishes left in their Will (or if there is no Will, under the rules of intestacy).
This may result in what appears to be an odd distribution of the estate, but if it is in accordance with the deceased’s wishes, a disappointed beneficiary may have difficulties in contesting the Will.
However, if a Will does not include the true wishes of the person making the Will, or if the Will has not been executed correctly, it may be invalid and can therefore be contested.
On what grounds can you contest a Will?
There are a number of grounds on which you can contest a Will (or make a claim against an estate). But let’s say upfront that we strongly advise that if you believe you may have a claim, you seek legal advice from an expert in this area early on.
- Technical reasons include:
- The Deceased did not have the necessary mental capacity to make a Will.
- The Will was not executed in accordance with the legal requirements for a valid Will.
- The Deceased did not have full knowledge and approval of the contents of the Will.
- Some fraud/forgery has occurred in relation to the Will.
- The Deceased was unduly influenced when they made the Will.
- The Will does not reflect the instructions given to the Deceased’s lawyer/solicitor.
- The Deceased did not provide financial support for you and you want to claim for reasonable financial provision from the estate.
- The Deceased made a promise to you which you relied on, to your detriment.
- A claim that the Deceased gifted something to you on their deathbed.
- A claim that the Deceased owed you money.
Not everyone has the right to contest a Will. Only those with a genuine interest in the estate can make a claim against it. Generally, the law is clear about who can challenge the terms of a Will, but some matters can be at the discretion of the courts – so it pays to get specialist legal advice.
What are the time limits?
As a general guide, if you are submitting a claim under the Inheritance (provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, the time limit is 6 months from the date of probate being granted.
There is no time limit for contesting a will on the grounds of fraud. The court can overrule these but only in exceptional circumstances.
How much might it cost?
It is difficult to say how much challenging a Will might cost. This is primarily due to the cost being dependant upon the grounds for the challenge and the level of legal advice / support you require, and legal fees can be expensive.
When thinking about the cost, it’s important to consider the ‘principle of proportionality’. You will need to weigh up how much it is likely to cost to pursue your claim against how much you are likely to recover. If you proceed where your claim is disproportionate to the likely legal costs, you should be aware that even if successful, you may not recoup all the legal expenses you have incurred in pursuing your claim.
The effect of challenging a Will
Challenging a Will can take a considerable amount of time and money to resolve and will likely cause a lot of stress and upset at a very emotional time.
Obviously, there are occasions when it is reasonable to challenge a Will and make a claim against an estate. An example of this would be where the Will is outdated and adequate financial provision hasn’t been made for a dependent spouse or minor child. However, it is worth considering whether a resolution can be found between the beneficiaries and those challenging the Will to avoid length and expensive legal proceedings.
If you would like to discuss any issues about challenging a Will, or would like to ensure that you have your own Will in place, please feel free to contact us on
Tel: 01953 711950 / 01603 339055
SMS text msg: 07972 212355 or
Please note that this information is provided as a guide only and in accordance with the current laws as at the date of publishing.
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