Contesting the Validity of a Will: A Brief Guide (Part 2)
Over the series of the few weeks, Walker Foster shall be releasing a bite sized blog each Monday that seeks to answer some of the most commonly asked questions our litigation department are asked to advise upon in a contested Will case.
Last week we considered when a person may seek to contest a Will and what the main legal grounds were to do so. (A link to last week’s blog can be found here)
Contesting and defending the validity of a Will is a specialist area of law referred to by lawyers as ‘contentious probate’. Contentious probate claims should not be confused with claims made pursuant to The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Inheritance Act”).
Claims under the Inheritance Act are based on the Deceased’s final Will being valid, where eligible Claimants under the Inheritance Act put forward that:
- although financial provision was made to the Claimant in the Deceased’s Will, the provision made was not reasonable; or
- no financial provision was made for the Claimant by the Deceased at all the Claimant feels reasonable provision should be made.
Alternatively, it may be that the Deceased died intestate and the Claimant may contend that:
- although by virtue of the intestacy rules, financial provision from the Deceased’s Estate is made to the Claimant, that provision is not reasonable; or
- no financial provision is made to the Claimant by virtue of the intestacy rules and the Claimant feels provision should be made for them.
In this blog, we shall consider what some of the less common grounds are that one may rely upon to contest the validity of a Will and we shall also consider some factual examples that would support one being able to contest a Will.
What are some other legal grounds to contest the validity of a Will?
Forgery / Fraud
If there is an allegation that the Deceased’s signature on the Will is not their usual signature, or that one or more of the signatures on the Will have been superimposed on to the Will for example, it could be contended that the Will has been made as a result of fraud and is therefore invalid.
A Will can be invalid if it has been made as a result of the Deceased having been told by person A, untruths about person B, so that the Deceased makes changes in their Will to disinherit person B from their Estate.
If you have been promised money or property by the Deceased, you relied on the promise and you believe to be at a loss due to the promise and your reliance on it, you may have a claim as to the Will’s validity if the promised money or property is then not referred to in the Deceased’s Will.
What are some factual examples that would support me being able to contest a Will?
- if the Will has not been prepared by a solicitor
- if you do not believe the Deceased knew of the full extent of their Estate
- if you do not believe that the witness/es to the Will were independent, for example if one or more of the witnesses to the Will are a named Beneficiary
- if the language used in the Will was not typical language used by the Deceased
- if the Deceased’s signature is visibly shaky or, you do not believe it to be their usual signature
- if the dispositions the Deceased has made represent radical changes from the Deceased’s previous Will/s and / or the changes cannot be reasonably understood
- if the extent of the disposition made to a Beneficiary appears to exceed the relationship between the Deceased and the Beneficiary
- if you believe the Deceased was coerced or influenced into making changes to their Will
- if you believe someone has told the Deceased untruths about you, resulting in the Deceased disinheriting you.
The information contained in this blog is for information purposes only. It by no means seeks to be exhaustive. It seeks to be a brief guide as to the circumstances in which one may seek to contest a Will. Walker Foster cannot accept any liability for any steps taken by someone who has read this Guide, acted upon it and that they feel results in loss to them. Specialist, case specific advice should be obtained before pursuing a claim to contest a Will and indeed, if you find yourself needing to defend a Will validity claim.
Walker Foster are able to advise and act for a party wishing to challenge the validity of a Will, or they are able to act for and advise a party defending an interest that they have under the Will that someone else is seeking to invalidate. Our lawyers are knowledgeable, experienced and passionate about assisting their clients in contentious probate matters. We seek to assist our clients in settling claims as quickly and cost effectively as possible and we have decades of experience of doing so.
Please contact us at email@example.com / 01756 700200 to make an appointment with one of our specialist lawyers if you require assistance in relation to a contested Will matter or claim pursuant to the Inheritance Act. We can also assist with the removal of the Executors of an Estate. Meet the team here:
Mr Luca Angarano, Chartered Legal Executive