With family structures today being more complex than they were years ago, contesting a Will is becoming increasingly common, particularly as the size of many inheritances increases.
However it should not be a decision taken lightly. Apart from the stress and costs involved, making an inheritance claim can cause a huge tension to grieving families, sometimes causing lifelong splits. So, ask of yourself, is it worth it, both emotionally and financially? If not, will it affect any other relationship?
There are many reasons why you might want to contest a Will. Perhaps, for example, you feel that your loved one has not adequately provided for you. Whether in the Will itself or via intestacy, the Inheritance Act 1975 makes provisions for family or dependants who did not receive reasonable financial provision from the estate of the deceased.
Alternatively you may be concerned about the validity of the Will. Questions to ask before challenging such a situation include:
- Is there evidence the Will is fraudulent or forged?
- Did the deceased have sufficient mental capacity at the time the Will was created?
- Was the Will signed and witnessed correctly?
- Was the Will revoked or was it the last Will of the deceased?
- Did the deceased know and approve of the contents of the Will?
One of these might be the basis on which you make your case. Or you may believe the Will has been drafted negligently by a professional who has failed to reflect the deceased wishes, included contradictory clauses or has not met with certain legal requirements.
There may be friction developing between you and the executors and trustees of the Will. This can happen if you consider that they have not given you all the information or if you think they have acted against the best interests of the estate. By contesting a Will it becomes possible to make an application to substitute or remove an executor or trustee.
Whichever case best applies to you, be aware of the 6 month time limit for making inheritance claims. The limit starts when probate has been granted, but you would be recommended to commence any claim before 6 months has passed from the date of death.
If you're considering whether to contest a will, it would be strongly recommended to obtain legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in contesting Wills and will be able to guide you through this complex area of law.