Contested Probate

Contested probate is sometimes referred to as contentious probate. If you are wondering “Can a will be contested” you may need advice from a solicitor with experience of contested estates.

Contested Wills and Estates

When a loved one or close friend dies, you might be concerned about the contents of their will. Perhaps you are surprised to learn who has inherited their property. What can you do, if you know they wouldn’t have wanted that person to benefit from their estate? When people approach us about these matters, we talk through the aspects of the will that make them feel uncomfortable. In the right circumstances, we recommend that they challenge the will with a view to having it revoked. Our litigation team is led by Siobhan who has extensive experience dealing with contested Wills and Inheritance Act claims. Whatever the problem, our team will work to find the right solution for you.

When can a Will be Contested?

There are a number common ways that people can challenge wills. Grounds for contested probate include undue influence, lack of capacity, lack of knowledge or an incorrectly executed will.

Undue influence

You can cite undue influence, if you believe that someone (normally in a position of power or authority) took advantage of the deceased to change their will. The person might have bullied or manipulated the deceased so that they changed their will. This will normally mean that the influencing party is included or receives a greater share of the deceased’s estate. Sadly, it can also include poisoning the deceased’s mind against another person to have them remove them from the Will. We work with many elderly clients so we are well aware of how important it is that people make their wills without coming under pressure from others.

Lack of capacity

The law requires that, when you create a will, you possess the necessary mental capacity to do so. If someone is ill when they make their Will, they might not have the required capacity. This is particularly true of certain physical and mental illnesses. This is a complicated area but we can explain and clarify when a person lacks or lacked capacity to create a will.

Lack of knowledge

Unfortunately, we have seen cases where the deceased did not fully understand what they were signing or how a will works. If you are concerned that a family member or close friend has created a will which they did not fully understand, we would encourage you to get in touch with us.

Contest an incorrectly executed will

A will must meet certain standards, such as a minimum number of witnesses. When these standards are not met the will won’t be valid. If you suspect that a family member or close friend’s Will was improperly executed, we can help you understand the tricky area of will execution.

Although the above are common examples, there are a number of ways to challenge a will. Our inheritance tax and wills solicitors can also help make sure that your will is difficult to challenge, if you have concerns that it might be, following your death. 

Inheritance Act claims

People normally bring claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 when they have been excluded or received very little from a person’s will. The Inheritance Act allows you to ask the court to grant you maintenance from the estate. These types of claims are normally brought by family members or long-term partners but they can be brought by anyone maintained by the deceased. There are very strict time limits for bringing this type of claim so we suggest getting in touch with us swiftly, if you had been maintained by someone who has died and you find yourself with no or little entitlement to their estate.

If you would like to talk to us, call 01295 253211 or send us an email.