Contesting a Will: What You Need to Know

If you feel that a will needs to be contested, it can be incredibly difficult to know where to start.  Perhaps you believe that your loved one was pressured into making arrangements that serve someone else’s agenda, or that they were not of sound enough mind to make fair and thorough provisions when it was written.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to contest the will, provided you hold a vested interest in it. Read more about the process below.

How Do You Contest a Will?

Those with a vested interest in the deceased person’s will are spouses, children, financial dependents, or a cohabiter. Alternatively, you also have grounds for contesting a will if you have been mentioned within the document, or within an earlier version of it.

Contesting a will is often a complex and time-consuming task, particularly when you are still mourning the loss of a loved one, and it should never be rushed into without the right help. If you have any qualms over a loved one’s will, then you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. They will be able to offer an expert and even-handed approach to the situation, which will help you to feel satisfied with the result.

What Grounds Are There for Contesting a Will?

There are several different reasons the validity of a will might be contested.

If you do not believe that your loved one was of sound mind at the time the will was written, then this is known as lack of testamentary capacity, and may mean that the will is not valid. Alternatively, they may not have been given proper guidance by their solicitor; issues with the way the will was drafted or signed can provide grounds for dispute.

On the other hand, the will may have been created or revised under suspicious circumstances. You may have reason to believe that another party interfered – whether through coercion (undue influence), or forgery. Your loved one may not even have been aware that this was happening.

What if the Will is Deemed Valid?

In some instances, if the will is deemed to have been written under valid circumstances, but you still feel that you have been treated unfairly within – or omitted from – a loved one’s will, you may be able to make a claim under the 1975 Act.

It may be that the deceased made a promise to you, and this promise stood in contradiction to what was written into the will – or failed to mention it altogether.

Otherwise, rather than disputing the will itself, you may be struggling against the rules of intestacy, which come into play when no will has been made. These rules are designed to ensure that an individual’s assets are still able to be distributed fairly, even if they made no formal wish themselves. However, these rules can fail to reflect or cater to individual circumstances, and those without any legally recognised tie to the individual, such as unmarried life partners, can suffer.