23 May 2022

A Helping Hand on How to Contest a Will

When handling the affairs of a loved one who has died, the road to distribution of an estate is not always straightforward.

When differing interests in the same estate occur, there can be the opportunity for arguments, fall-outs and legal wrangling in an effort for each beneficiary to try to get what they believe they are entitled to.

Add the increase in the number of step-families and other family dynamics that differentiate from the perceived norm, and there is much more scope for contested Wills in today’s society. 

Can you dispute a Will?

It is important to understand whether you are able, by law, to dispute a Will. Specific people, or groups, are entitled to bring a legal challenge and they include direct family members, spouses, beneficiaries stated in the Will, a person who relies on the testator in terms of finance, and a creditor of the estate. The validity of a Will can also be challenged.

What are the grounds for contesting a Will?

When considering contesting a Will, by law it is crucial to prove the testator was either not in their right mind when signing it, unaware of what they were signing, that the Will was written up incorrectly, there was forgery of a signature and/or a beneficiary has a legal right to the estate but there is no mention of them in the Will itself.

In addition it is possible for persons in particular categories to bring a claim for reasonable provision if they have not been left any provision or a lower provision than the law might expect.

Do solicitors keep copies of Wills?

Yes they do. Whenever a Will is drafted by a legal firm, they will often keep either the original or a copy securely stored. Originals are often stored by the firm who created it, and a copy given to the client so they can store their version in a safe and accessible space.

How can I avoid or reduce the risk of someone contesting my estate?

Firstly ensure you have made a professionally drawn Will and highlight the risk of a claim to your solicitor. It is possible to draft a statement that will help explain your reasoning and this can later help mitigate and reduce the risk of a claim if that claim is brought.

How long does contesting a Will take?

A claim for reasonable provision must be brought within 6 months of the date of the Grant of Probate / Letters of Administration, but the time for a contested estate to conclude can take a long time depending on the strength of claims. It could take months or years to get a mediated end result when contesting a Will. It is always best to resolve any issues through mediation, discussion, and dialogue. If that doesn’t work, the end result will be a court date which only prolongs the process further. If the Courts become involved the costs are also a huge consideration.

I am an executor of a Will and someone is contesting. What should I do?

You need to take advice to protect your personal position as Executor. The best course of action would be to rely on the skills and expertise of a legal professional that specialises in Wills. The team at Winns does just that, with decades of experience, and a diligent and dedicated group of professionals on hand to support you with the right advice.

Call the Wills team now for a no-obligation chat about your circumstances. We’re here to help.

What is the role of your solicitor?

Were you to use the Winns Wills team, you would receive expert advice on your circumstances, and what possible next steps were available to you. Then, they support the evidence gathering process to ensure the strongest possible claim is presented during mediation. Should mediation fail, the process will head to the Courts. Barristers opinions are often sought on these matters.

Don’t delay in getting your own Will arranged to avoid contested estates or if you are ready to contest a Will, contact our team today.

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